Imagine a dog who runs toward evil and danger, not away from it.
Imagine an animal who so fully embraces its mission of strategic military and defense-minded goals that it’s willing to die for those goals in the process.
Sure, these animals are carefully chosen, highly trained, and rigorously vetted — and in many cases bred for the type of work they do.
But that doesn’t take away from the bravery, dedication, and sheer physical energy required of this particular animal to chase an evil leader of terror and mayhem into a dead-end tunnel in a dangerous part of the world and confront the killer face-to-face — no matter what.
This is what the Belgian Malinois named Conan (shown above) — according to reports in The Washington Examiner, Newsweek, and The New York Post — did over the weekend when, working with its military unit, it cornered ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northern Syria in a dark and probably decrepit tunnel.
The Belgian Malinois breed is described as a “world-class worker who forges an unbreakable bond with its human partner,” according to the American Kennel Club.
It’s said to be smart, confident, and versatile.
And when al-Baghdadi saw this animal-turned-machine coming straight at him, at that point he gave up the chase, according to reports — and detonated his suicide vest.
The man brutally killed himself and the three children with him — children who may have been his own, according to reports. The dog was injured as well in the blast, but not badly, apparently.
If it weren’t for the bravery of this animal, not only might a killer still be alive, the military individuals at whose side the dog worked might have been injured — or far worse.
This is a hero dog for the ages.
And no amount of political commentary from those who have issues with the mission itself, or who have problems with the communications of this mission, can take away from what this animal did for America and the world when it helped take out a terrorist.
“Amazingly,” as The New York Post noted in a piece on Tuesday morning, “Conan has already been cleared to return to service, Pentagon officials said Monday.”
So Conan is again at work, together with the brave men and women of the special forces of the United States and others, striving to keep Americans and so many others safe in one place or another.
“The dog is still in theater,” Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a press briefing on Monday. “The dog … performed a tremendous service as they all do in a variety of situations.”
“As they all do” — that’s a great reminder that there are countless animals out there performing their duties without accolade or attention, without awards or rewards, without fanfare or further nods of recognition.
We have declassified a picture of the wonderful dog (name not declassified) that did such a GREAT JOB in capturing and killing the Leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi! pic.twitter.com/PDMx9nZWvw
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 28, 2019
Apparently, the dog is a female named Conan. Fitting, if you ask me. Is it possible for a dog to become a decorated soldier?
Classified Name Revealed of Special Operations Dog Wounded in Syria Raid that Killed ISIS Leader Baghdadi https://t.co/s3qnMRtm1b
— The Liquor Guy🇺🇲 (@shiznitus) October 29, 2019
They simply do what they do. And they are all worthy of our appreciation for their service on our behalf.
Over the course of my career, I’ve written and edited many pieces about hero pets in many situations.
There was the dog who saved an elderly couple lost in the woods by digging the pair out and guiding them to safety.
There was the bird who thwarted a robber and saved everything a man owned in the process.
There was the pig who rescued a child when a vicious dog began charging the boy.
There are so many other stories of heroism, bravery, and incredible effort on the part of these creatures — both personal pets and service animals of one kind or another.
It’s so easy to dismiss actions like these, to wave away what happened with comments like, “Oh, big deal,” or “It probably didn’t really happen that way,” or “So an animal did what animals do. What else you got?”
But when I interviewed the actual people whose lives were saved, or homes protected, or livelihoods preserved by brave animals around them — the truth was clear.
Conan, who helped take out a murderous mastermind, is right up there with the best, as its actions under incredible duress almost certainly saved many innocent people from future harm. And in some way, the animal helped bring about a sense of justice for all those whose loved ones had suffered under a terrorist leader.
Just for one moment, at a polarized time in our country’s history, we can say “thanks” to this animal and to all the brave men and women of America and other countries who helped achieve something significant this past weekend — including our president of the United States.
It’s true that taking out a terrorist leader doesn’t mean the terror is gone. We know that.
And it’s true that Washington is sharply and bitterly divided. We know that, too.
But we can also acknowledge one significant and true accomplishment for what it is. And doing so should not be controversial.
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