Memorial Day is a time of remembrance and reflection of service members lost. This Memorial weekend, we would like to pay a special tribute to lost military working dogs. One dog comes to mind in particular- Bety.
As some of you know, Bety was recently on American Grit Live with Project K-9 Hero. Unfortunately soon after the show, found here, Bety’s health took a turn and she was unable to recover. She did however, have an amazing life and career.
“She wasn’t the type of dog I could just hand you the leash and she would automatically work for you,” said Melissa Schmalhorst, Bety’s handler. “She had to have a bond.”
Bety was born May 5, 2009 and became a Military Working Dog in 2011. She would serve 9 years with the Air Force, getting retired in 2018. Bety’s career shows just how dedicated military working dogs are in their service.
In 2012, alongside Melissa, Bety would be the lead K-9 during a 460-mile route clearance mission. This mission spanned over three days in support of then President Obama’s visit to the Middle East. Bety served multiple overseas deployments. Melissa is unsure exactly how many because she was not Bety’s handler the entire time.
“Everywhere I’ve been in the Middle East, they always try to use either robots or scanners and nobody can beat a dogs nose,” Melissa said regarding a military working dogs’ ability to sniff bombs, drugs and other materials.
As a matter of fact, Bety’s nose was so good, she helped change military regulations. Melissa said that while the Geneva Convention is unclear about the use of dogs in warfare, there is no doubt terrorists use dogs. So, she and Bety were asked to work with the SERE school at Fairchild.
“We were one of the first to work alongside the school and Bety found a lot of the students. They ended up having to change a lot of the regulations because of her on how to evade a dog in enemy territory.”
Another part of Bety’s job was bomb detection. Melissa said she and Bety would go on over 11 bomb threat missions with thankfully, no finds. A majority of the time, their presence was more of a deterrence than anything. Melissa said she even had coworkers and supervisors attempt to trick Bety and they would always fail.
Unfortunately, due to her time in service, Bety developed quite a few health issues. After her retirement, Melissa was able to adopt Bety and care for her on her ranch in Texas. In our interview, Melissa exclaimed many times how sharp Bety was and how much life she continued to have, despite her age and health. Bety’s last breath was taken May 16, 2020.
Our hearts go out to Melissa and all of those touched by Bety’s military service. Bety served her country honorably and will be remembered for her contribution, like all service members should be.
This Memorial Day weekend, here’s to our four-legged friends who wear the uniform in a different way and give their lives for this country. We honor and remember all service members who paid the ultimate debt for their country.
May We Never Forget.