Pillager family adopts retired military dog

Shira will live out her life with the Davises, far from harm

By Tina SnellStaff Writer

Sgt. Kelsi Davis, a member of the Minnesota National Guard and working at Camp Ripley, wanted another dog. But she didn’t just want any old dog. She wanted one who was retired from service, a prior military working dog.

Davis said that these dogs, unlike herself, did not volunteer for their job, but were born into it. They do so much for the country, she said.

The Pillager woman started searching and learned that there were lots of dogs available and most were stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.

The Davis family, Pillager, has recently welcomed retired Army dog, Shira, into their home. Shira, a Dutch Shepherd, has been to Afghanistan at least twice and was retired when it was thought she had injured her ACL. Pictured are (from left): Ben, Kelsi and Dominic Davis with Shira.

The Davis family, Pillager, has recently welcomed retired Army dog, Shira, into their home. Shira, a Dutch Shepherd, has been to Afghanistan at least twice and was retired when it was thought she had injured her ACL. Pictured are (from left): Ben, Kelsi and Dominic Davis with Shira.

“The dogs there are either retired or puppies who have been partially trained and for whatever reason, didn’t make the cut,” said Davis. “Those dogs go to Lackland Air Force Base.”

But when she called Lackland Air Force Base, she was told there was a two-year waiting period for a dog.

“I didn’t have the patience to wait two years,” she said.

So, Davis started calling all the other bases with canines.

“I found Shira in Virginia,” she said.

But, it took weeks to get the four-year-old Dutch shepherd from Virginia to Minnesota.

“I was told Shira had an injury with her ACL (a knee ligament),” said Davis. “The New York (NY) Animal Medical Center had said they would fix it for free, and several people helped with transporting her there and housing her.”

When the veterinarians examined 70-pound Shira, they found it wasn’t an ACL injury, but hip dysplasia, a condition where the ball and socket bones of the hip lose contact with each other for various reasons, some genetic.

The doctors in New York gave Shira medication to help with the inflammation and discomfort and sent her on her way to Minnesota via American Airlines who gave Shira and her escort, Nancy Brooks, a free ride. Shira needs to take it easy for four weeks to see if it helps. If not, surgery may be in her future.

Shira arrived in Minnesota Oct. 9.

Shira

Shira

“I drove to the airport and brought Shira home,” said Davis. “She has acclimated quickly and gets along well with our other dogs, chickens, pigeons and one horse. She’s a happy dog.”

Shira has been in Afghanistan two or three times and is trained as a tactical explosive detection dog.

“So many of the deployed dogs are trained to be aggressive and need to go through testing to ensure they are suitable for a family. Most of them are,” said Davis. “The adoption process with Shira went smoother since she was trained in detection only.”

When the Army decided to discontinue using dogs for tactical explosive detection, she was returned to the United States to be retrained as a military police dog. It was then the pain was detected.

“I wanted a dog who deserved a home I wanted to offer Shira a loving retirement home with my family,” said Davis. “She has earned it and we feel lucky to have her.”

Davis is currently researching Shira’s military history in hopes of finding her previous handlers to learn more about where she has been, what she’s done and to maybe have a reunion.

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