Max: American movie showcases valor of military working dogs

Max is make-believe, but military working dogs are real, and when they are retired, they need loving homes.

Photos courtesy of Airwolfhound, U.S. Army, DVIDSHUB, Offutt Air Force Base/flickr

SAN DIEGO, July 7, 2015 — “Max,” a June 2015 theatrical release, is an American action and adventure movie that is ideal for the entire family.

Theatrical release poster courtesy of Warner Bros.
Theatrical release poster courtesy of Warner Bros.

Max is a spirited Malinois shepherd who has been trained as a military war dog. While serving in the Marine Corps and fighting in Afghanistan, a shooting incident kills his handler and beloved companion, U.S. Marine Kyle Wincott.

Max is returned stateside following Wincott’s death. A fellow Marine who served with Wincott takes Max to Wincott’s hometown church to attend his funeral service. Max dashes up to Wincott’s casket, which is adorned with an American flag, and places his front paws on the casket.

He sniffs the casket of his beloved handler and kneels to the ground, quietly displaying his love and devotion to Wincott and also his sorrow.

Because some of his superior officers believe Max shows signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, he is deemed a potential threat, retired from military service and scheduled to be euthanized.

Dogs have been used in warfare for at least 2,600 years. Their first recorded use was in 600 B.C., when the war dogs of the Lydians routed and killed Cimmerian invaders. The Romans used large breeds in battle, most notably the now-extinct Molossus. Persians, Egyptians, Slavs, Greeks, Romans and Huns all used dogs in battle and as sentries.

Dogs remained valued military assets through the Middle Ages and into modern times. Possessed with unique talents and an evolutionary bond with humans, they have a natural proclivity for running in packs, making them excellent members of a team.They are exceptionally well-suited for the rigors of military life and service on the battlefield.

According to the United States War Dogs Association, “In addition to the fine qualities that dogs have as team members … they have visual and olfactory sensory abilities that are literally superhuman, can go where a soldier cannot, and often subdue or intimidate a foe more quickly with non-lethal force.”

Single-purpose military working dogs come from breeds such as Labrador retrievers, golden and Chesapeake Bay retrievers, and Vizslas. They have extraordinary olfactory senses, making them excellent at sniffing out narcotics and explosives.

Dual-purpose military working dogs, which come from breeds such as German shepherds, Dutch shepherds and Belgian Malinois, have excellent multi-sensory abilities. They are also smart, savvy and loyal, and they can be trained to be highly aggressive.

Photo courtesy of USMC Archives/flickr
Photo courtesy of USMC Archives/flickr Dual-purpose dogs are highly prized for use in military operations involving patrol, protection, scouting, bomb sniffing and their ability to parachute into battle zones with the use of specialized gear.

Dual-purpose dogs are highly prized for use in military operations involving patrol, protection, scouting, and bomb sniffing, and they can be trained to parachute into battle zones with the use of specialized gear.

Trained military working canines might also be used in service as assets for the CIA and federal or local law enforcement.

In addition to their work on the battlefield and in law enforcement, military working dogs serve as sentries during times of peace. They can often be seen as guards at military camps, bases and checkpoints.

United States military working dogs are acquired and trained by the 341st Military Working Dog Squadron, Lackland AFB, Texas.

Today there are approximately 3,000 United States military working dogs in active service world-wide.

Sadly, thousands of military working dogs have died in combat or been left behind in war zones. Many of the thousands of military working dogs who have been retired from military service have been doomed to euthanasia.

The good news is that much has been done to reverse this unfortunate mistreatment of America’s invisible heroes. President Bill Clinton signed Robby’s Law into effect November 2000, which gave permission for civilian families and military families alike to provide retired military working dogs with loving homes.

The bill was named after Robby, a Belgian Malinois and a courageous military working dog who unfortunately was not permitted to be adopted by a family who loved him on the advent of his retirement from service.

Loving American families now have the opportunity to adopt retired military working dog heroes, bringing them home to a well-deserved life of love, safety and renewed purpose.

In the movie, that is exactly what happens to Max. He finds his forever home, is adopted by a loving family and discovers an entirely new life.

For information about adopting a military working dog, contact the following organizations:

Pets for Patriots

(815) 349-9647
[email protected]

The United States War Dogs Association, Inc.


Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, is a health care provider of over 30 years. As a featured “Communities Digital News” columnist, LifeCycles with Laurie Edwards-Tate emphasizes healthy aging and maintaining independence, while delighting and informing its readers. Laurie is a recognized expert in home and community-based, long-term care services, and is also an educator.

In addition to writing for “Communities Digital News,” Laurie is the President and CEO of her firm, At Your Home Familycare, which serves persons of all ages who are disabled and infirm with a variety of non-medical, in-home care and concierge services.

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Laurie Edwards-Tate
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California, was among the first to recognize the growing need for services allowing individuals to remain independent created by the aging of America including the Baby Boomer generation, now being called the “Silver Tsunami.” It is the Baby Boomers who are rapidly redefining what aging and growing older means and looks like in America today. Now celebrating its 28th year in business, AYHF is among San Diego County’s Top Women-Owned Businesses and Fastest Growing Businesses, and enjoys a reputation for upholding the highest possible standards among its employees and its emphasis on customer service. Edwards-Tate is a valued contributor to the public dialogue on current issues and challenges in the home care industry, and serves in leadership roles on the Home Care Aide Association of America Advisory Board and Private Duty Home Care Association Advisory Board, as well as the Home Care Aide Steering Committee of the California Association for Health Services at Home. Edwards-Tate is frequently interviewed in the media on healthy aging, caregiving, and health care topics. Follow Laurie and AYHF at; on Facebook at, and Twitter at @AYHFamilycare