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An empty kennel

Ranger dog made an impression

A multi-purpose canine (MPC), Maiko, died in Afghanistan while protecting the 2/75 Rangers he served with. Photo credit: U.S. Army

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Erica Jong, an American novelist, satirist and poet, once wrote that "Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love. They depart to teach us about loss."

Maiko, a 7-year-old multi-purpose canine (MPC) assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, lived and died by those words.

"He was killed in action Nov. 24 while leading Rangers into the breach of a targeted compound" during a close-quarters firefight in southwestern Afghanistan, a leaked, unofficial biography reads.

"Maiko's presence and actions inside the building directly caused the enemy to engage him, giving away his position and resulting in the assault force eliminating the threat."

The biography disclosed that Maiko's actions saved the life of his unidentified handler.

That's the lesson about love.

Born in Holland in 2011, Maiko arrived in this country when he was 15 months old. Selected from Shallow Creek Kennels in Pennsylvania in 2012, he completed the Regimental Basic/Advanced Handler's Course in early 2013.

The training he endured was not easy.

While German Shepherds are generally thought of as the preeminent military dogs, Belgium Malinois like Maiko have proven themselves invaluable. Eighty-five percent of military dogs are purchased from Germany and the Netherlands.

Only 50 percent of the dogs selected make it through the training to serve in the military.

Specifically, Maiko had a sense of smell 40 times greater than that of his handler. His small and compact body made him ideal for parachuting and repelling missions.

His training began on the end of a short leash, and he was taught to give a warning by growling, alerting or barking. He was also trained to work in silence in order to detect snipers, explosives, ambushes and enemy forces in the area.

As a multi-purpose canine, Maiko would have also been able to detect the presence of the enemy at a distance of up to 1,000 yards, long before the handler does.

Maiko was extensively trained on patrol tactics, explosive detection and tracking skills. Upon completion of the course, he was assigned to 2nd Ranger Battalion.

During his service with the 2/75, Maiko deployed six times to Afghanistan, participating in over 50 direct-action raids.

He proved himself invaluable in improvised explosive device (IED) detection, clearing buildings, apprehending enemy combatants and finding enemy killed in action.

At the time of his death, he was the most senior MPC in the battalion.

Those who worked with Maiko remember his patience and forgiving nature, his solid consistency in training and his easy-going temperament. They also clearly remember the painful bumps and bruises Maiko gave them when he bit them during training scenarios.

According to the author of the aforementioned unofficial biography, all remember experiencing "a softened heart after getting to experience Maiko's calm and joyful disposition."

That's the lesson of loss.

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