Animal Planet to Debut 2-Hour GLORY HOUNDS Special, 2/21
When Osama Bin Laden was killed, a military working dog was part of the team on the ground, working alongside his handler to help capture him. Tens of thousands of military service men and women risk their lives in Afghanistan every day. Serving beside these heroes are approximately 600 military working dogs (MWDs), whose sole purpose is to protect soldiers and innocent civilians. These specialized dogs are highly trained to do what no man or technology can. The military relies on the dogs' keen, canine sense of smell to sniff out, locate and signal for explosive devices and to track insurgents.
Premiering Thursday, February 21, at 9 PM ET/PT, GLORY HOUNDS is a two-hour, first-of-its-kind special with Animal Planet's filmmakers and embedded camera crews having unprecedented access to MWD teams in some of the most volatile regions in Afghanistan. Permission to film in the active war zone required more than a year of discussions among producers and four branches of the US Military. Upon gaining access, camera teams filming the stories told in GLORY HOUNDS acquired specialized training before spending six weeks in Afghanistan embedded with these troops.
Dogs are said to be man's best friend. In Afghanistan, dogs are best friends, partners and comrades in arms; they're also often the best defense against the Taliban's weapon of choice - improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, hidden randomly in the sand. Because the MWDs are so adept at identifying these weapons before they explode, the dog teams have become one of the Taliban's prime targets. While they're providing invaluable intelligence, these dogs form unbreakable bonds with the handlers who train them. To their handlers, MWDs are not merely gear; they're weapons with hearts, minds and souls.
Lance Corporal Kent Ferrell and his MWD, Zora: Lance Cpl. Ferrell, 22, of Bel Air, Maryland, grew up with a golden retriever that had a huge impact on his life. Now, as a MWD handler, he develops a deep bond with his German shepherd, Zora, on the front lines; their partnership is pragmatic and personal; many lives depend on Zora's ability to sniff out IEDs before they explode, but to Lance Cpl. Ferrell, Zora is more than a defense weapon - she's his sister in arms. As a warrior dog, she's prepared to make the biggest sacrifice of all.
Corporal Drew Nyman and his MWD, Emily: Raised in Emporia, Kansas, 23-year-old Cpl. Nyman's parents owned a pet shop, so it comes as no surprise that he's a natural around dogs. Cpl. Nyman wants to make it home to see his wife and newborn son, so it's imperative, as a MWD handler, to understand what his canine partner, Belgian Malinois Emily, is thinking at all times; any miscue could be the difference between life and death. Cpl. Nyman and Emily are a combat-tracking team. Emily doesn't sniff out explosives; she smells humans, and she's looking for Taliban insurgents deep in the heart of enemy territory. Do Cpl. Nyman and Emily survive their tour of duty, and can they handle the trauma of the battlefield?
Staff Sergeant Len Anderson and his MWD, Azza: Staff Sgt. Anderson, 29, from Chestertown, South Carolina, is training for his new role as kennel master with his MWD Azza, a veteran Belgian Malinois who detects bombs. In his role, Staff Sgt. Anderson could remain safely in the compound. He believes real leaders lead from the front, so he receives special permission for Azza and himself to join his troops on patrol outside the wire. Anderson and Azza get caught in the crossfire, and a GLORY HOUNDS cameraman becomes part of the story himself when he drops his camera to help save Staff Sgt. Anderson's life.
Lance Corporal Durward Shaw and his MWD, Falko: Lance CpL. Shaw, 21, of Denton, Texas, is Falco's first-ever MWD handler. Falko, a German Shepherd mix, is an attack dog and an explosive-device tracker; both handler and dog are newbies in Afghanistan and are part of a security detail operating on Afghanistan's notorious Highway One, a critical supply artery that's also one of the deadliest roads in the country. Lance CpL. Shaw is eager to put his and Falko's abilities to the test, but every step outside the wire is a step into the unknown. He also is determined to make it home to his wife and his newborn daughter, whom he's never met, so he relies on Falko to help him stay alive.
In GLORY HOUNDS, as in war, some dogs and handlers come home, some return forever changed, and some don't come home at all.
GLORY HOUNDS is produced for Animal Planet by Ten100. The film is directed and executive produced for Ten100 by John Dorsey and Andrew Stephan. Lisa Lucas is executive producer for Animal Planet. Vice president of production for Animal Planet is Jason Carey. Patrick Keegan is producer for Animal Planet.
Animal Planet Media (APM), a multi-media business unit of Discovery Communications, is the world's only entertainment brand that immerses viewers in the full range of life in the animal kingdom with rich, deep content via multiple platforms and offers animal lovers and pet owners access to a centralized online, television and mobile Community for immersive, engaging, high-quality entertainment, information and enrichment. APM consists of the Animal Planet television network, available in more than 96 million homes in the US; online assets www.animalplanet.com, the ultimate online destination for all things animal; the 24/7 broadband channel, Animal Planet Beyond; Petfinder.com, the #1 pet-related Web property globally that facilitates pet adoption; and other media platforms including a robust Video-on-Demand (VOD) service; mobile content; and merchandising extensions.