Patron Saint: This Tiny Terrier Has Helped Ukrainian Forces Clear Nearly 90 Explosives During the War
Brave little Patron, a 2-year-old Russell terrier with the Ukrainian civil defense service, has joined the defense of his country, sniffing out dozens of bombs in a matter of weeks.
Posted to Facebook on March 19 by the State Emergency Service (SES) of Ukraine, the country's civil defense agency, a video shows the little dog, wrapped in his military vest, getting ready for another day on the job, riding with his handlers in the car, and investigating the Ukrainian landscape for explosives.
Since the beginning of the Russian invasion last month, Patron and SES combat engineers have collaborated to clear nearly 90 explosive devices, the post read.
For much of the last 100 years, dogs have played a particularly important role in military work. Ordinance-sniffing dogs have helped locate land mines, unexploded bombs, and improvised devices in campaigns across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The work of dogs like Patron has likely helped save the lives of countless civilians caught in the middle of global conflicts.
This usefulness all comes down to a dog's keen sense of smell. Detection dogs have been used to find everything from people to drugs to bedbugs, thanks to the fact that their sense of smell is estimated to be 1,000 to 10,000 times better than our own.
"There's no substitute for the detection of a dog. There's no machine built yet that can reciprocate what a dog can do," William Cronin, director for the American K-9 for Afghanistan and Mali, West Africa, said in an article for the U.S. Army. "When you go into your grandmother's kitchen, you smell stew. The dog goes in your grandmother's kitchen, he smells carrots, pepper, tomatoes, and lettuce."
Along with a powerful nose, the small size and keen intelligence of Patron's breed make him a particularly useful worker because he can get into small spaces and move easily from one location to the next.
In a perfect world, there's no need for ordinance-sniffing dogs at all. But until we get there, dogs like Patron continue to save lives alongside their human handlers. Салютувати Patron!