Sniffing Out Bombs: America’s most elite dogs

Logan: When the bombs went off at the boston marathon, highly trained dogs were rushed to the scene to search for more explosives. Boston police have said dogs swept the streets in the morning and a second time just an hour before the first marathoners crossed the finish line. It’s considered likely that the bombers planted their devices well after the dogs finished sweeping the area. Since 9/11, dogs have been used more than ever because nothing has proven more effective against hidden bombs than the nose of a working dog. The best of them serve with u.S. Special operations, and they’re in a league of their own. It’s nearly impossible to get anyone to talk about them publicly because much of what they do is classified, but we were able to talk to the people who train them for this story. We took the opportunity to ask about what might have happened in boston while getting a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of america’s most elite dogs. Green beret chris corbin and his dog, ax, are at 14,000 feet in the skies over north carolina. They’re about to test a new harness that america’s best soldiers will use to jump into combat. But it’s not for corbin, it’s for ax. As they free-fall for nearly 10,000 feet at 125 miles an hour, ax is wrapped in corbin’s arms. They’ve been to war together, nearly died together, and they never like to be too far apart. Do you think he enjoyed it? Corbin: He just wants to do whatever I’m doing. He doesn’t care what it is. Logan: You’ve said that these dogs feel like they’re invincible? Corbin: Absolutely. Logan: What makes you say that? Corbin: We don’t train them to fail. Logan: Sergeant first-class corbin is a dog handler with 7th special forces group, and he and six-year old ax have been a team for three years. They deployed to helmand in southern afghanistan at a time when more americans were dying there than any other place in the country. Corbin and ax’s job was to lead their unit through a battlefield littered with hidden bombs. Corbin: We walked in front. We cleared the pass for… For everyone to move through. Logan: You say it so easily– “i walked out front”– like it’s nothing, but what does that actually mean when you’re the one walking out front? Corbin: You are the one risking… I hate to say the most, but, yeah, you’re out front. I’m the one who makes it safe or announces it as safe for everyone else to walk behind. Logan: What’s your level of trust in your dog? Corbin: It has to be this perfect trust. Logan: Perfect trust that begins with trainers like former navy seal mike ritland. He’s one of just a handful of people in this country who finds and trains these dogs for special operations and top tier units in the f.B.I. And police departments across the u.S. What can these dogs do on the streets of america? Ritland: The… The very same thing that they do for… For our boys overseas, in that they… They detect explosives. They are a fantastic deterrent. They use their nose to find, you know, people as, well. Logan: Would an average police dog have found these bombs at the boston marathon if they’d already been placed on the ground, you know, before they were sweeping through there? Ritland: There is a lot of variables that I’m not aware of as to where they were and what was done in terms of the sweeps. But, based on what I do know, yes, if… If dogs went through the areas where… Where they were placed, you know, your… Your average, certified police bomb dog should have found them. My thoughts are, if… If these guys are paying close attention to these dogs, they’re waiting. And when the dogs leave, they bring it in. They hand… They hand… They infiltrate, essentially. They drop it right where it’s busy, and, very soon after, it detonates. Logan: Mike ritland knows from his own experience on the ground in iraq what it means to have one of these elite dogs on your team. Ritland: When you step outside that wire… Logan: Like, outside the base? Ritland: Outside the base, it’s crossing the border to hell on earth. Every step you take is that same feeling of, “the very next step that I take may be my last.” When you see these dogs operate in the capacity that they can, using their nose and finding explosives in… In the manner that they do, the… The… That level of comfort absolutely skyrockets in your mind because you know that you’ve got one of the… The best-trained, best- equipped, best-capable, you know, working dogs out in front of you that… That has your back. Logan: We met mike ritland on his 20-acre ranch in rural cooper, texas, where he runs his own company. Tell me some of the things that these dogs can actually do. They jump out of planes? Helicopters? Ritland: You can free-fall with ’em. You can rappel with them. You can fast-rope with them. You can swim with them. I mean, they can ride on boats. They can ride on your back. There’s not really an environment that we operate in that… That you can’t bring a dog. Logan: There’s such a demand for them that mike ritland says they’d be used on almost every mission if there were enough of them. And it’s not just about their nose. Ritland is training this dog rico to track humans and take down enemy fighters. He’s three and a half years old, and ritland has been working with him for the past year. Here, he’s about to apprehend a suspect. These dogs can run faster than 30 miles an hour. The suspect is one of mike ritland’s partners, and he’s screaming to make this as realistic as possible. These dogs are trained to capture, not to kill. Ritland: There’s no human being on earth that can outrun them. You know, I can tell you that the physical capability of these dogs is impossible to explain and even hard to comprehend when you see it. Logan: How hard can they bite? Ritland: Hard enough to break bones. I had a dog bite me right here, like this. He only had his mouth on me for probably four or five seconds and broke my wrist. Logan: He broke your wrist in four or five seconds? Ritland: Yeah. I mean, just like that, just broke it. Logan: Mike ritland says they have to teach these dogs how to deal with someone who wants to harm them. The trainer is putting pressure on him without hurting him. The aim is to make the dog comfortable, then teach him to ignore it, and, by the end, ritland says, the dog won’t let it affect him at all. Ritland: The number one thing that I look for in a dog is that that dog, when pushed, and when he’s put into an uncomfortable spot where physically and mentally he’s got pressure on him and I give him the choice– and it’s absolutely a choice to either stay and fight me or to quit and run– that dog decides “i’m going to stay and fight you, and I’m gonna beat you.” When you do find that, it is a unicorn in that they almost doexist. Logan: Arko is one of those rare dogs. He’s retired after repeated deployments to iraq and afghanistan, and he now lives on mike ritland’s ranch. Most of what he’s done is classified, so ritland could only tell us a little about the operation that almost killed him when he took down an enemy fighter who shot him in the chest. Ritland: And he maintained control of the guy, you know, after being… After being shot, so… Logan: At point-blank range? Ritland: Uh-huh. Yep. So, you know, it’s funny because a lot of… A lot of people, you know, I think scoff at the idea that, you know, what kind of… What… What kind of things, what kind of obstacles can these dogs really go through, you know? And it’s… It’s more than most humans. (Growling) Logan: For a dog to make it in the world of special operations, mike ritland says there are certain qualities that have to be there from the beginning. Ritland: He’s already, you know, displaying the prey drive and possessiveness that we like to see in that he’ll put uncomfortable objects in his mouth. Logan: Most of the dogs that do this work well are from one breed, belgian malinois. And there are only three places in the u.S. That breed them for top-tier military units like this one in west virginia, where mike ritland gets some of his dogs. Oh, they’re so cute. Here, they specialize in the early stages of training, which starts almost from birth with loud noises that are meant to get them used to the sounds they may one day face in combat. Their noses are up to a 1,000 times more sensitive than a human’s, and at just a few months old, they start learning to ignore other smells and distractions while zeroing in on the scent of a bomb. Ritland: So, here she’s trying to get her to be disobedient to that odor, and he won’t do it. Logan: They’ll repeat this training over and over for two years so that by the time this dog goes to war or is needed on america’s streets, nothing will take it off the track of a bomb. Ritland: Everybody knows that dogs can smell better than humans, but what they don’t realize is that if you and i walk into the kitchen and there’s a pot of beef stew on the counter, you and I smell beef stew. A dog smells potatoes, carrots, beef, onion, celery, gravy, flour. They smell each and every individual component of everything that’s in that beef stew. And… And they can separate every one of those. You can’t hide anything from them. It won’t work because you can’t fool a dog’s nose. Logan: Dogs and their handlers work as a team, and they go through so much together, their bond is as strong as a band of brothers. Green beret chris corbin and ax almost died together in afghanistan on their final mission. and ax had already found one bomb. They moved together to an area that had been cleared, and that’s when he says he missed ax’s signal. Corbin: All of a sudden, he wasn’t pulling forward, he was pulling down. I was, “what are you doing buddy? Hold still.” I wasn’t thinking it… Maybe he’s sniffing my foot, maybe i passed by a dog– all these other things why he would be looking down. just intently sniffing all around my foot. And it started to occur to me that, okay… Logan: Wait a minute. Corbin: With wires coming out of the building, we’re already in a place that we know is full of mines, why is he sniffing down on my foot? And at that moment, it was just that, too little too late. And that was it. Logan: Ax was shaken up by the blast but not wounded. Chris corbin lost both his lower legs. Yet, in less than five months, he was back on active duty as a green beret. He says ax had a lot to do with it and described the moment he saw him again for the first me. Corbin: They brought him up for a visit, and I heard him getting him out of the back of the truck and opening his kennel. And he, just being a stir-crazy dog, just, “hey, let me out of here, let’s do a look around.” I just said something simple “hey, where’s my boy at?” And he stopped, he froze, he looked around, and he went into a panic until he found me and he jumped on my legs. Painful. Just… I was just happy to see him. I didn’t care how much it hurt. Logan: During our entire interview, ax never left corbin’s side and barely took his eyes off him. Corbin says he’s fearless because he doesn’t know when he’s in danger. Some people might say, “well, that’s unfair to the dog because you’re sending this dog into a dangerous environment where he could very easily lose his life or limbs, be wounded, and he doesn’t understand.” Corbin: I could make him scared of it and make him not do his job and send soldiers to the same death. That’s my answer to that. Logan: It wasn’t until after 9/11 that special operations formally began using dogs, starting in afghanistan. Duane and his dog rex survived a tough deployment there in 2010. Duane: I saw my dog, you know, trying to smash through doors, climb up cliffs, drag people down cliffs. Just track people, find odors that were hid… Hidden up in the ceiling, just you name it. It… It seemed like every day i was being amazed by these dogs. Logan: Duane has been a covert operator for 21 years. He told us these dogs are so effective, they’re now being targeted. A taliban commander told a member of our team that on his last operation, they were ordered to open fire on the american dogs first and deal with the soldiers next. In afghanistan, there have been 42 dogs killed in action, and when they are wounded in combat, they get the same care as any soldier. And when these dogs retire from special operations, some of them– like rex, duane’s dog– find jobs with law enforcement. He’s now working with the san diego sheriff’s department. Those who can’t work anymore often end up with mike ritland, who’s started the warrior dog foundation to look after them. Ritland is the first person to write a book about these elite dogs. He says when budgets are being cut, he hopes people won’t forget how much a well-trained dog like rico means on today’s battlefield and on our city streets. And he’s your dog? Ritland: Right now, he is, yeah. (Laughs) that’s always subject to change, but, you know, he’s… He’s better served serving our country than he is being… Being my personal dog. So, you know, when the… When the time comes for him to… To answer that call, I’d… I’d… I’m always happy to see them go… Go do something for the greater good. ♪ YOU’VE REACHED THE AGE Where giving up isn’t who you are. ♪ ♪

You may also like...

100 Responses

  1. P Opio says:

    Wow Mike looks so young 😂

  2. Paul Wamaji says:

    Nice dogs, I like dogs too I train them

  3. Contact Moi says:

    Poor dogs …

  4. george hinckle says:

    i trained my dog to attack onions. what can i say? i love onions.

  5. gottabump says:

    Power Pooch

  6. msnpassjan2004 says:

    I hate that the handlers leave the dogs once their tour is up. To the dog, the handler is family for life.

  7. StopIsraeliTerror Farmer says:

    Bombs didn't go off at the Boston Marathon. The loudspeaker was screaming, THIS IS A DRILL? JEwTube took down every video proving Boston was fake. They're didn't even try to hide it. Go look at what 60 minutes did to the reporter that reported on Vince Foster. If you're in the media? You're the enemy of the people of the United States. Period. And you will be treated as such..

  8. Grey Jay says:

    Walking down a city street with a friend one day, his Weimaraner alerted to 3 young men crossing towards us, from the opposite sidewalk. His ruff went up, his tail stood stiff, and a low growl came out of his chest. The dog knew what we did not. Those 3 guys were about to take us on, probably to rob us. That Weimaraner's growl, his unblinking stare, was enough to send those predators on their way. Nobody wants to tangle with a large, intelligent, motivated dog.

  9. Mr. Salty says:

    Why does the soldier at the beginning of look like Ted from parks and recs.

  10. Bob McCallan says:

    Two good people, Lara and Mike.

  11. mboiko says:

    6 years later the same retired Navy SEAL Mike Ritland in this video returns the favor and interviews 60 Minutes Lara Logan. "Lara Logan Calls Media ‘Mostly Liberal’ in Scorched Earth Interview: I’m Committing ‘Professional Suicide’"

  12. Lauren Padgett says:

    His name is Rico!

  13. సుమిత్త్ జె says:

    Lara,superb report

  14. daisy agusto says:

    i hope all this dogs was now livin in a peacefull life ,they deserve a happy home after retirement

  15. Beatsbymike says:

    Which dog is used more the Pitbull or malinois?

  16. Evan S says:

    This program has been so much more effective than the special operations llama program. God, all the money this country wasted on that could have paid for gender preference pronoun training for half the country.

  17. Rubenia Malone says:

    I pray for all military and military dogs, makes cry to watch this video. I hope that someday will be no more wars. God Bless the Military and their elite dogs. God Bless America!!

  18. Candace Shirley says:

    Best dogs in the world!

  19. Ruben Scott says:

    They have best training some dogs cost over 1.5million to train most are 500k I would love to see a video of how much this dogs practice

  20. Shawn Chowning says:

    from shawn

  21. Thetequilashooter1 says:

    Great story 60 Minutes! One of your best. That look that Axe gave to him melted my heart. Loyalty beyond any person would give.

  22. Worship Him says:

    I would love to know what they feed these dogs. What brand?

  23. taylor gee says:

    I love dogs whatever it is

  24. jybuys says:

    Most of these dogs come from The Netherlands, like the dog that chased al-Baghdadi.

  25. Scuba Steve says:

    God when that pup was looking at its owner…Did you see the absolute love and admiration in its eyes? Man that was beautiful. And people who say it's not fair for the dogs to be put into an environment they dont understand, I say they dont know dogs. They live and love to do whatever their owners want. They genuinely love it.

  26. Lloyd Reynolds says:

    Woman ! It's per hour Not an hour !!!

  27. Mailee Le says:

    America most elites DOG !

  28. Mailee Le says:


  29. biggles4441 says:

    dogs swept the street that amazing,did they use a broom

  30. P Botrel says:

    Much respect!

  31. Autumn Ortiz says:

    You can see the respect the reporter has for the people and dogs in this report

  32. Duznt Matter says:

    I didn’t like the guys answer about I can send soldiers into the same situation… So it’s OK for the dog to die? 😡

  33. Im_A_Shih_Tzu Love for Dogs says:

    Respect here because i know what it feels.

  34. David Costello says:

    Just absolutely f**** amazing!!!!

  35. Jim The EDC Guy says:

    Dogs love us more than we can ever know!

  36. Glinkling Smearnops says:

    Muslims hate dogs. How appropriate that trained dogs are one of the most effective weapons in the war on Global Islamic terror.

  37. Glinkling Smearnops says:

    Imagine one of these canine soldiers chasing down, and breaking the bones, of an Islamic terrorist. Imagine the Islamic terrorist's pain. How good!

  38. Oo7 Hola says:

    He would be my best buddy. I would love him care for him like my own child. How do we extend Dogs lives.

  39. Robin Holbrook says:

    I'll take Axe anyday . I like Mike but the other no way

  40. @MissQueeennn says:


  41. Washington kho says:

    Make a movie please

  42. Jackson Turner says:

    Holdup sponsored by what

  43. Arnab Kunui says:


  44. Babe Ruth says:

    I want one of them dogs now..
    Thank u for your service Dogs🇺🇸

  45. Micky Deloach says:

    This reporter is a brave woman! She was attacked in a crowd that I don’t remember where! But I’d Love to meet her and buy her a drink and talk to her!!

  46. Hafiz Umar says:


  47. Julius Caesar says:

    Look how young Mike is here….

  48. Julius Caesar says:

    Go check out Ritlands podcast, Mike Drop.

  49. Hitesh Rawat says:

    It ironic that Indian army kills their retired dogs

  50. Youngrevival 97 says:

    You know how some dogs hate riding in a Car. Haha. Jump out of a plane with that one😂😂😂

  51. Robert Biondo says:


  52. Paperwing says:

    12:09. That look on the dog’s face looking at his handler. Such concern and love!

  53. On Da Rez says:

    I am breeding Dutch x German Shepherd, I would donate for military work.

  54. RWH24112 says:

    How do people honestly click thumbs down on a video like this! Peoples motives baffle me!

  55. Fernando Cortez says:

    My son just received a Siberian Husky as a gift amazing dog this made me cry I have nothing but love for my soldier's my country the USA I feel more at ease that my son has a loyal companion I say this because I am a animal lover 💯🤝🤝🇺🇸✝️

  56. Disco3 says:

    May I ask, where does the statement "Upto 1000 times stronger than a humans sence if smell" ? Come from?

  57. crime face law says:

    German Shepherd is just the best dog to have around!

  58. Dwight Sommers says:


  59. voodoo dolly says:

    Lol, that dog genuinely looked like he was enjoying that free fall 😂😂💪

  60. That fat guy In McDonald’s eating a salad says:

    I had a mal her name was candy she died rip canday😭

  61. Marcel Bukuru says:

    Thanks for your service Mr. DOG and all those who save in the military

  62. SushiWrap says:

    The interviewer is gorgeous

  63. Jane Tyrrell says:

    How come you still leave them behind

  64. MrMauidiver says:

    I wonder if they could find Hillary‘s missing emails, or the secret to Joe Biden son getting a multi million dollar job in an industry he knows nothing about

  65. Doctor House says:

    Bunch of 💩. Bragging doesn’t make you smart.

  66. loggins2182001 says:

    It is also important that after they retire, they should have a proper home to spend the remainder of their lives.

  67. Fajoes Fajoes says:

    Wonderful dog..god bles him ..

  68. deenibeeniable says:

    Not only CAN dogs smell better than humans, they smell better than humans. To me, anyway. I'm part dog, though.

  69. Destiny tran says:

    They know that the dog die Than the solders will die.

  70. Kevin Cummings says:

    My dog sits around all day eating pizza and pee’ing every 2 minutes

  71. miielyo avb says:

    I was scared for the dog when they jumped out the plane lol

  72. Jennifer Bujanos says:

    These dogs and their handlers have my upmost respect. Thanks to all of those who serve.
    Dogs are amazing. I've recently started having seizures and my dog knows about 10mins before it hits me. Never been trained for that but he knows every time. He circles me and pushes me toward the spot I sit while seizing. Because of this he will now become my therapy dog. From rescue to lifesaver. Adopt don't shop.

  73. A guy from Delco says:

    Dogs are the most amazing things in the world. God’s perfect creation.

  74. Izzy K says:

    And someone will try to convince me on a cat

  75. Kenny sparkelz says:

    These dogs also have cameras on em so the guys can watch where they are when they send em in. And can talk to em via radio or whatver they use…pretty badass dogs


    our military spfc have used dogs for decades. this report is wrong about that

  77. Suzie Do says:

    Great to know that these seal K-9 receive the same care as soldiers when wounded ❤️

  78. Cool Cat says:

    Dogs were in the civil war , one charged the confederate at lines at Gettysburg with his fellow Yankees

  79. Talia Voider says:

    This man permanently lost both of his legs and the dog is like: 🐕

  80. Jason Jewell says:

    RIP to the 42 four legged fallen Heroes

  81. Caleb Wade says:

    At 13:28 is that grenade coming over the wall?

  82. Domini De la cruz says:

    Lindo video 👍

  83. davidsalinas9 says:

    Sponsored by biafra. Lmao the reporter definitely got smashed after making this video by that military guy

  84. Feb Cafino says:

    “we don’t train them to fail.”

  85. Jose Miguel Tobar Hernandez says:

    Working dogs 1 Working cats 0

  86. Noelien Nortman says:


  87. Brookenoel 85 says:

    Seeing the picture of the dog with an IV bleeding and bandaged up being put into the helicopter it’s honestly harder for me to see than a human being in that same situation

  88. Big Daddy Romeo says:

    But ask yourself a question why was the military there sniffing for bombs in the first place do they show up at every marathon befor sniffing for bombs no they I was actually watching the marathons that day and while they’re waiting Military was absolutely everywhere on the roof on the streets we would’ve thought it was a marathon for them I’m just saying people pay attention

  89. kris walne says:

    Narrator is so gorgeous. 😍🥰

  90. kris walne says:

    Dogs like this are remarkable in a way that you can only feel and not explain. Such an extraordinary animal and their loyalty and sense of trust is only a bond that someone like axe and parter can feel. Such a beautiful dog, that is a true hero.

  91. Leigh Phillips says:

    Not German shepherds…Belgian Malinois

  92. Dianne Ledford says:

    No US reinstated the DOG soldiers after 9/11 but we use to have kilo way back WW1 and WW2

  93. John Patriot says:

    Good dog and thank you for your awesome service brave soldier…

  94. Floppychzcake says:

    They may not be humans, but they are still soldiers, they are more loyal, and more patriotic than any human could be, they don't accept failure, and they deserve the same amount of respect as the rest of our soldiers

  95. Santeri Lassila says:

    Video: 5:28
    Me: underwater dah

  96. Mj de Guzman says:

    It's a German Shepherd or Belgian malinois?

  97. sixpackbinky says:


  98. Mahima Deka says:

    He is sooo sweet and adorable and he deserves a round of applause for his valuable services to humanity. Hats off to your dog. He is a great dog. May God Bless Him!! 💗🕊❤👍✌💟

  99. Carrie Arends says:

    My Shadow Was one Of These Rare types

  100. Alapaha blue blood bulldogs says:

    Absolutely love this proper dogs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *