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American Hero Dog: Adak

On January 14, 2008, the Kabul Serena Hotel in Afghanistan was hit by a terrorist attack, and many guests of the hotel were trapped inside. The U.S. Army was at the hotel in minutes and helped to evacuate 20 people while the terrorists were still active at the scene. The integral leader of that army force was Adak – a Contract Working Dog.

Adak’s accomplishments as an explosive detection dog are unmatched. While working in Iraq and Afghanistan, Adak provided security for officials and dignitaries visiting the U.S. Embassy. He conducted numerous sweeps where he was able to identify bombs and other explosives, saving many lives. Everyone felt safer with the courageous Adak by their side.

Adak was special because he wasn’t just a working dog, he was also a companion. His handler, Dan Hughes, wanted to stay with Adak forever, and they ended up coming back to the states together. Dan’s wife was intimidated at first by the idea of a fierce, tough German Shepard living in their home, but her fears proved to be unfounded. Adak meshed perfectly with the family – he loved attention and cuddles, and he was sweet and affectionate to Dan’s children.

Adak had a year off to recover and just be a happy and traditional pet dog, but it was clear that he liked having a mission. When Dan and his wife started Dogs for Defense Incorporated, a working dog solutions business, Adak joined the team. He performed security sweeps at concerts, shopping malls, schools and special events. Dan wanted to show that detection dogs did not need to be frightening, and Adak was a great example with his loving nature. Adak still had a job to do, but he enjoyed it.

Adak worked for twelve years of his life – a remarkable amount of time. When he was 13, his body finally began to slow down and when Adak eventually crossed the rainbow bridge, Dan didn’t leave his side. Adak had an incredible journey of a life. From war dog to security dog to endearing pet, Adak will be remembered forever. In 2017, he was honored as the American Military Hero Dog.

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