A Labrador Retriever is the first assistance dog to be enlisted into the Australian army!
Murray, the awesome Labrador, was awarded the rank of Gunner. This rank is equivalent to a private.
After pledging his allegiance by placing his paw on the bible, the Lab was formally enlisted into the Royal Australian Artillery. The ceremony took place in a hall filled with the dog’s human colleagues. The Labrador is posted with the 16th Air Land Regiment at Woodside.
Gunner Murray is the fourth assistance dog to graduate in Operation K9, a program that trains assistance dogs for members of the military.
The assistance dog’s role is an important one. He provides his services to the 180 personnel of the 16 ALR. Regimental Sergeant Major Fox told ABC News that Murray’s presence has impacted all personnel and is an incredible boost for the mental health of all members of the Woodside Barracks.
The Lab, Gunner Murray, bunks in the guard room overnight and when not on duty and provides company and support to all members of the barracks.
“Still today, some seven months after he has arrived in the unit, it’s a race to see who can get down to the guard room first to see who can take him to PT and then who can take him away for the remainder of the day,” Regimental Sergeant Major Fox said.
He added that he had purposely made access to Gunner Murray non-formal to ensure personnel did not feel any pressure or associated guilt when utilizing the assistance dog.
“I did not want any stigma attached to the person who was with the dog for the day,” he said.
“If an individual feels that he is struggling and feels that Gunner Murray will help him out through this rough patch, it’s up to him to identify that and grab Gunner Murray.”
As a trained assistance dog, Gunner Murray is able to recognize and respond to heightened anxiety, night tremors and depression in his companions.
“The benefit of just that one dog for 180 people, regardless of where they are in their life, has impacted on each and every one of them.”
Article and image source: ABC News