Thursday, February 28, 2013

Real Life Hunky Hero Kevin Hanrahan supports Paws with a Cause!

Join me and other Bloggers all week long in supporting a fantastic cause!

My first guest blogger this week, is a new friend and fellow dog lover.  He is a decorated war veteran and I want to take this opportunity to thank him for his dedicated service to our great country.  

Meet Author, Blogger and Dog Advocate, Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Hanrahan, U.S. Army

“For perhaps, if the truth were known, we're all a little blind, a little deaf, a little handicapped, a little lonely, a little less than perfect. And if we can learn to appreciate and utilize the dog's full potentials, we will, together, make it in this life on earth.”
- Charlotte Schwartz

Thanks so much for having me on your fabulous site Noelle! I love the design of your site… its ascetics are so elegant and sleek! 

Full disclosure- I have never read a romance novel in my life.

OK, I feel much better getting that out in the open!

So how did Noelle and I connect?  

A time and tested way, through men’s (and women’s) best friend……our love of dogs.
I own two Vizslas….well maybe they own me…..

Sammy and Stella are my best pals and Sammy was my rock when my life fell apart after I returned from Iraq in 2005. 

I’m a Lieutenant Colonel in the active duty U.S. Army.

I’ve been dog focused since I was a little boy especially after reading books like Where the Red Fern Grows, Call of the Wild, and even Clifford the Red Dog as a wee little fella!

I simply can’t resist any opportunity to promote the use of dogs to help people. 

My forte is Military Working dogs. In 2010 to 2011, I was serving as the Deputy Provost Marshal for United States Forces- Afghanistan in Kabul and part of my duty was to oversee the Working Dog Program. 

I first recognized the value of dogs on the battlefield when I received an urgent message from the Brigade Operations Officer of the 2d Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.

The Brigade Operations officer told me that he was losing soldiers every day to Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). The brigade was only able to employ 10% of their combat power into their assigned sector because every time they tried their troops were being killed and maimed. 

The Taliban were winning.

He told me the only thing that was effective combating these IED was our explosive detector dogs. At the time he only had a handful of dog teams assigned to his unit. He begged me to get him more dog teams. 

Months later as the dog teams flooded into Afghanistan we had a really bad week where we lost multiple handlers and dogs. One dog was even missing after an intense battle down in Helmand Province.

I was in my office, teary eyes reading the reports of the latest handler killed and I just knew the American public had no idea what these young men and women were doing with their dog in Afghanistan.

I swore to myself I would tell their story and I would bring it to the American people. So within two days I started writing my first novel, Paws on the Ground, which is currently with my literary agent being prepared for submission to publishers.

Paws on the Ground is the story of American soldiers and the dogs that protect them in the alien and treacherous terrain of Afghanistan.

It is a novel about the true and ancient bonds of friendship, love, and loyalty as they are tested in the world of modern warfare.

While I wait for it to be published I’ve been collecting and writing true stories of our dog handlers in Afghanistan on my website

Noelle has included a link to the first chapter in one of my most popular dog team storyline, John and Specialized Search Dog Honza Bear:

Labeled lazy and unintelligent, Specialized Search Dog Honza is a reject no one wants… except for one soldier.

What groans like a bear, is cuddly like a teddy, marches to his own beat and possess a laser-sharp sense for sniffing out explosives? A 100-pound yellow Labrador named HONZA BEAR!

But can Army Specialist John Nolan convince Honza Bear to follow his lead? Will they even get to deploy or will Honza Bear’s antics sabotage their certification?

Can John turn this cuddly bear into a lethal lifesaving weapon so that, if they are able to join their Special Forces unit in the heart of enemy held territory in Afghanistan, they won’t get blown up?

Start here to begin reading their exciting story!


John and the Lumbering “Honza Bear”

John and the Lumbering “Honza Bear”

Posted on 9th April, by Kevin Hanrahan in Dog Advocate, John and Honza Bear. 25 Comments

“Why me,” thought Specialist John Nolan as he looked around at the other 11 students in his specialized search dog (SSD) class at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. The other guys were looking at one another, smiling, laughing and joking. But John stared at the ground. He wished he could share their enthusiasm.
Everyone else was receiving two dogs and would get to choose their K9 partner but not him. He was getting the mine detector dog washout. He bit his bottom lip and shook his head.
“We’ve tried him before with four other SSD students and he never works out,” his instructors informed him.
This is not what the three-year-and-one-combat-deployment Army veteran had expected when he volunteered for K9 School. He felt like the instructors were setting him up for failure. He looked from side to side at the other dogs as he raked his finger over the cages while he walked through the kennels. They were all barking excitingly and twirling around in their kennels like tops. Why couldn’t he have one of the other guys “good” dogs to go with his washout, wondered John as he shuffled his feet down the kennel walkway.
“That’s him right there, Nolan. The big goofy labrador is yours.”Honza head on and close up 300x216 John and the Lumbering “Honza Bear”
John sighed heavily and turned to face his new partner, the partner that he would be relying on to find improvised explosives before they found him.
He turned, with his hands on his hips and stared at the unimpressive yellow dog who barely acknowledged his presence. John looked up at his name plate above his kennel. It read “Honza, 4YO, male.” He looked down at Honza who was sprawled out on the ground at the rear of his kennel.
Honza let out a yawn, looked up at him and seemed to be saying, “I’ve been through this before with other handlers. I sabotaged them and I’ll do the same to you. Let’s get this over with so I can lounge around.”
John’s shoulders tensed as he reached for the kennel door and opened it. Honza got to his feet. John took a step forward into the cage, closing the gate behind him, and was quickly pushed backwards landing on his rear end with Honza on top off him. Honza’a massive front paws were on his chest and his wet slimy pink tongue was lathering John’s face with saliva. The 80-pound dog pushed him into the metal chain link fence and John struggled to regain his composure as bellowed deep belly laughs.
His family dogs—Ralph, a beagle, and Rosie, his Jack Russell terrier—never had the bulk to take him down like this when he was growing up. He’d been caught off guard by the lab.
Honzas Big head 193x300 John and the Lumbering “Honza Bear”John wrapped his arms around the dog, squeezing him and pulling him against his body tightly. He could feel the dog’s heart pounding and Honza groaned with delight as he tried to lick John’s face some more. It came back to John that he hadn’t had a dog since he joined the Army. He desperately missed the companionship and comfort his family dogs always provided.
“Don’t worry, this dog is only temporary, Nolan. We’ll get you a good dog,” a passing instructor said.
John looked up at the instructor and wondered what was wrong with Honza? He seemed like a good dog. He pushed his head against the short yellow fur on the dog’s head and peered into his brown eyes with a hint of a rust color to them. Honza’s tail hadn’t stopped wagging since John had entered the cage and it was now whacking the man’s leg and felt like he was being hit lightly by a leather belt.
“What is your problem, pal?”
Two days later he found out exactly what was wrong when they ran their first search drill. Honza took three times the amount of time to complete the exercise as the other dogs had. He was slow, lethargic, appearing to be out for a Sunday stroll rather than finding explosives. Honza had no sense of urgency.
John Directing Honza John and the Lumbering “Honza Bear”
John watched him curiously and thought that he looked like an unwieldy bear, poking around for snacks at a campsite. Paw this and paw that. He would sniff here and there, stroll to the left or right and sniff again, look at a passing butterfly and then take a few more steps with his nose down. His long yellow tail was wagging from side to side as if it were a windshield wiper on a rainy day. He was Honza the Bear!
“Don’t worry, Nolan. He’ll be your backup dog. We are giving you another dog tomorrow,” his instructor informed him.
John looked up at the staff sergeant instructor and wanted to ask, “What if I don’t want another dog?  What if I want Honza Bear to be my dog?” But he kept his mouth shut.
John had made a cardinal mistake at dog school. He had fallen in love instantly with the big goofy knucklehead lab. He couldn’t help it. Honza reminded him of his beagle Ralph, just larger.
Honza licking his lips John and the Lumbering “Honza Bear”

Will John get to keep Honza as his dog?
What happens when John is given additional dogs to work with?
Can Honza finally be turned into an effective working dog?
Click here for the next exciting chapter in this story!    
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  1. Thank you for your service to our county. When I think of our US Armed Forces I sometimes forget that they too use animals. It also makes me wounder how many dogs lost their life for our soldiers and county. I'm sure there's not many people thing about that.

    1. I will make sure Kevin gets your thanks. I will be posting some blurbs and photos throughout the week regarding our military service dogs. Follow Kevin's blog at the links below Honza's post to read about other teams including some fine four legged soldiers that have given their lives to service. Your support is appreciated more than you know!