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Stress control canine in trials with US Navy

Sage, the USS Gerald R. Ford’s facility dog, visits the USS Normandy in the Mediterranean Sea, June 20, 2023. Photo: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Malachi Lakey.

The US Navy has begun trialling the use of an expanded operational stress control canine on the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford.

The US Navy has begun trialling the use of an expanded operational stress control canine on the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford.

Sage, a three-year-old Labrador Retriever, has been specially trained to help sailors cope with stress associated with deployment and to provide comfort and morale boost as part of the ship’s warfighter toughness mental health and resiliency team.

The USS Gerald R. Ford’s facility dog begun the pilot program throughout a deployment earlier this month in the Mediterranean Sea.

Sage and US Navy handlers have also taken the dog aboard the Ticonderoga Class guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy, which is another ship in the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group.

Labrador Retrievers have previously been used in the US Armed Forces as specialised search dogs for patrol explosive detection and patrol narcotics detection. Other canines such as German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois have been traditionally trained as dual-capability dogs and attack-on-command dogs.

US Armed Forces canines have previously been selected and trained at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio or procured from overseas training facilities in Germany, Italy, and Belgium.

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