"Alpha Dogs" premieres Jan. 8 on Nat Geo Wild! This new reality series showcases the process of training highly skilled police and military dogs. These heroic dogs are reminders of the many other heroic canines deployed with police and military all over the world. There are countless stories of astounding heroism by police and military dogs, and here are a few of the most inspiring.
Wheeler was originally a shelter dog that had been abandoned on the streets of Brooklyn. He was in bad enough shape that he was almost put down until rescuer Liz Keller, who runs the Glen Wild Animal Rescue, noticed his potential. She showed that potential to the NYSP canine unit, which then sent him to be trained at the State Police Canine Training Facility in Cooperstown. After a 20-week intensive training program, he landed a job as a cadaver dog. Wheeler made headline news while on the job by finding the body of a young boy in a high-profile case. His discovery led to the conviction of the boy's murderer. Wheeler has gone on to locate six missing bodies and many drug stashes in various states.
Trakr's story is incredible in several ways. Trakr and his retired Canadian police officer handler, James Symington, were among the first search and rescue teams on the scene at Ground Zero. Despite the horrifying conditions, the two helped find Genelle Gusman, the last human survivor of 9/11, under about 30 feet of unstable rubble. Trakr was born in Canada and trained in search and rescue. His rescue at the World Trade Center site was not his first. Over his career, he rescued hundreds of people and recovered millions of dollars worth of stolen goods.
Rocky was a Dutch shepherd, born in Holland and bought by the Lakewood Police Department in Denver from a dog-training program. His handler and partner, Darren Maurer, took care of him from the time he was only one and a half years old. Rocky made national news back in August 2002 when he took a bullet to the paw as he chased down, and helped capture, a 20-year-old burglar. He may have saved that burglar's life in the process, pinning the assailant before officers could shoot back.
Cairo is one of the most well known canines in the country. He is the Belgian Malinois that helped take down Osama Bin Laden while wearing a bulletproof vest. Cairo's job description changed after one of the helicopters crashed. He became responsible for closing off the perimeter of the house while the six SEALs, who were supposed to have dropped on the roof, made their way inside.
Heroic military dogs are not a new thing. Sgt. Stubby was an extraordinary dog that fought 17 battles in WWI. On one mission, he served in the trenches in France for 18 months and survived being gassed. He then warned his unit of incoming attacks and helped locate wounded soldiers. One of his biggest achievements was helping to capture a German spy.
Sgt. Stubby was originally a homeless mutt in New Haven, Connecticut, and was taken in by a soldier named John Robert Conroy. He named the dog and trained him, although it wasn't a difficult task. Sgt. Stubby was a smart dog, learning much of the work of a soldier by simply watching the training drills. He was honored for all his hard work and heroism by becoming Georgetown University's Hoyas mascot.
Tune in for the premiere of "Alpha Dogs" on Friday, 2/8 on Nat Geo Wild at 9 PM ET.