National K9 Veterans Day - Celebrating Four-Legged Warriors

K-9 Veterans Day
March 13, 2023

PHOENIX – Monday, March 13th is National K9 Veterans Day, honoring the service and sacrifice of military dogs who have served alongside U.S. service members.

The history of military and working dogs goes back to 1942, after the U.S. Army began training its new War Dog Program which became known as the “K-9 Corps”. These working dogs were utilized to boost morale but also as mustard gas detectors. Today, military K9’s sniff out improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in combat missions around the world.

One of those K9’s, Spiky, served alongside Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services Outreach Program Manager, Nick Drake. “We were together since he got out of dog training school at Lackland Air Force Base in 2009 in San Antonio, Texas,” Nick explained.

Spiky’s first deployment with Nick was to Iraq in 2009-2010 where both were attached to the Army 10th Mountain Division throughout different Forward Operating Bases (FOBs).

Today’s K9 Veterans Day graphic, released on social media, included many pictures of Nick and Spiky during that deployment in multiple operations throughout Iraq. “While these dogs love what they do, their entire lives are dedicated to serving in the military. They don’t get to go home at night to a warm couch and spend their days being petted in the warm sun on the porch. Most, if not all, will give their lives to serve in the military for this country,” Nick said.

According to the Department of Defense (DOD) about 1,600 military working dogs currently work around the world with U.S. Armed Forces.

For ADVS Outreach Program Manager Nick Drake, these dogs deserve the recognition they receive on K9 Veterans Day, “The best thing about it was working with dogs every day. The perception of military/law enforcement attack dogs is they’re not meant to be petted and while there are some like that, they are all just dogs trained to do a different job and the dogs loved it as much as I did.”


Thank you to Spiky and the thousands of others K9 military dogs who have served our country!