Fierce protectors: Military dogs and their handlers often form deep bonds — it’s an essential part of the canine-handler relationship that is specifically built into their training regimen. The personal attachments are often so intense that it can take weeks of training before a dog can begin working with a new handler.

Not only are these dogs fierce assault weapons, they are loyal guardians. When Private First Class Colton Rusk was shot after his unit came under Taliban sniper fire during a routine patrol in Afghanistan, Rusk’s bomb-sniffing dog, Eli, crawled on top of his body, attacking anyone — including Rusk’s fellow Marines — who tried to come near him. Rusk did not survive the assault, but Eli was granted early retirement so he could live with Rusk’s family.

In the photo above, Staff Sgt. Erick Martinez, a military dog handler uses an over-the-shoulder carry to hold his dog, Argo II, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, on March 4. The exercise helps build trust, loyalty, and teamwork.

(Source: foreignpolicy.com)