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Canine Soldiers: The Militarization Of Love

Airs Tuesday, July 18, 2017 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

A trainer with her dog and a toy.

Credit: Courtesy of Mo-Ti Productions/ Nancy Schiesari / University of Texas at Austin

Above: A trainer with her dog and a toy. "Canine Soldiers" explores the intimate bond between military working dogs and their handlers-combat soldiers who make life-and-death decisions based on the instincts and behavior of the dogs who lead their patrols.

"Canine Soldiers: The Militarization Of Love" is a one-hour documentary film that explores the intimate bond between military working dogs and their handlers — combat soldiers who make life-and-death decisions based on the instincts and behavior of the dogs who lead their patrols.

In wars where the rules of engagement have shifted from traditional combat to the unforeseen and the invisible, these highly trained dogs are saving soldiers’ lives and giving them comfort, hope and protection.

Canine Soldiers: Trailer

Canine Soldiers Trailer from Nancy Schiesari on Vimeo.

"Canine Soldiers" explores the intimate bond between military working dogs and their handlers-combat soldiers who make life-and-death decisions based on the instincts and behavior of the dogs who lead their patrols.

Military working dog teams have become the most effective agents in detecting explosives and chemical weapons at home and abroad. Their mission is to save lives, not kill.

From rigorous training to deployment, we follow our soldier handlers to learn what it takes to become a successful MWD team.

We explain how the dogs are bred, how their relationships with their handlers develop, and what it’s like for our handler teams to live in interdependence on the war front.

Deployed soldiers eat, sleep, shower and patrol with their dog by their side.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Mo-Ti Productions/ Nancy Schiesari / University of Texas at Austin

Soldiers with their dogs.

This special bond is critical in forming a relationship of trust where each understands and reads each other’s cues.

One trainer remarked, "These soldiers don't have battle buddies to the right and left of them like a regular line soldier. Their only battle buddy really is that dog. They literally place their lives in the nose of that dog.”

"Canine Soldiers" will be the first war documentary told from the point of view of a soldier/dog team, molding together their poignant stories with reflections from notable animal scholars who think outside the box about the significance of co-species evolution.

Relying on dogs to keep us safe in war is only the continuation of a long history of co-evolution with canines. Even in this age of advanced technology, we are again relying on a “primitive” animal’s superior sense of smell to survive.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Mo-Ti Productions/ Nancy Schiesari / University of Texas at Austin

A soldier and her dog search for explosives. Military working dog teams have become the most effective agents in detecting explosives and chemical weapons.

Does being dependent on another species to keep us safe during war open our hearts to new truths about ourselves, our connection to nature and ultimately to what it means to be human?

The film also raises the ethical question: Is coopting a sentient being in conflicts that involve violence ever justifiable?

Photo credit: Courtesy of Mo-Ti Productions/ Nancy Schiesari / University of Texas at Austin

Trainers and dogs behind a fence with a sign that reads "Off Limits Military Working Dog Area Danger."

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“Canine Soldiers” is on Facebook.

CREDITS:

A Mo-Ti Production. Producer and Director is Nancy Schiesari. Co-producer is Kristina Mann. 3D Post Production Supervisor is Jason Eitelbach. Editor is Michelle Nehme. Assistant Editor is Josh Hilliard. Associate Producer and Online Media Manager is Laura Dixon. Website Designer/Multimedia Specialist is Kristopher Ohlendorf.

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