Just like soldiers, military working dogs can develop post traumatic stress disorder. The specially trained teams can be victims of their own success.
In her two deployments to Afghanistan, Nushka has seen a lot of action - too much action.
“She was like depressed almost, almost like a down and out mentality,” said SSG Charles Sikes, US Army
Nushka suffers from canine PTSD, something the Army says affects roughly 10 percent of these dogs.
The number of dogs working in war zones has nearly doubled in 10 years. They are in such high demand, JBLM just activated a detachment specifically for the dogs and their handlers.
“They'll be together, they'll deploy together, they'll train together,” said Sikes.
Training that includes knowing when enough is enough.
“She started to realize a pattern. Once she picked up that pattern she started getting a little shakier, stayed closer to me,” said Sikes.
Those warning signs are critical. After all, lives depend on what the dogs can do.
“Nobody's been hurt by an IED who's rode or walked behind her searching,” said Sikes.
Nushka is now on the path to retirement.
“She's put a lot of time on her paws,” said Sikes.
Veterinarians are available in the war zone and at home should a dog start showing signs of distress. The Army then works to try to treat the dog and if that fails, dogs like Nuska can be adopted out to their handler and retired.