Patriot Guard honors retired Marine dog for first time

BUTLER, Mo. - "She's just as much a veteran as I am," said Mark Clark, one of the dozens of Patriot Guard members who came to salute Alma.

Saturday afternoon was the one of the first times Missouri Patriot Guard officials believe any Patriot Guard in the country had honored a dog.

Alma, a military working dog, served as a bomb sniffing K-9 during three tours in Iraq. But under a cold blue sky, Alma's owner helped her hobble into a veterinary clinic between rows of waving American flags.

Owner and fellow veteran Ashley Arwood said Alma's hip dysplasia had caused her health to deteriorate, putting her in severe pain. Saturday afternoon, Arwood said Alma was put down to end her pain but not without dozens of salutes, the sounds of TAPS, and Arwood receiving an American flag.

Clark remembered a bomb sniffing dog saving his life and others seven times during his tour in Iraq.

"We had seven movements stopped because a military working dog alerted on a suspicious vehicle," said Clark. "All seven of those vehicles were found to have an improvised explosive device and they were detonated safely without harming any U.S. personnel because of the military working dogs."

We had over 600 soldiers, airmen, and marines on those movements. We all returned to our bases safely because the military working dogs detected the explosives."

Arwood appreciates how special the Patriot Guard treated the dog and veteran she loved.

"You definitely can't put a price on saving somebody's life so they can go home to their family and that's literally what these dogs do."

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