Colombia’s special forces dogs are also skydivers

World Today

Colombia's special forces dogs are also skydivers

When you’re a member of the Colombian Air Force who does airborne missions, parachuting is necessary for survival. Dogs are no exception.

CCTV America’s correspondent Michelle Begue reports on Colombia’s parachuting dogs.

Colombia\'s special forces dogs are also skydivers

Colombia\'s special forces dogs are also skydivers

When you’re a member of the Colombian Air Force who does airborne missions, parachuting is necessary for survival. Dogs are no exception. CCTV America’s correspondent Michelle Begue reports on Colombia’s parachuting dogs.

Three year-old Rouse is like any other dog. This Belgian Malinois wants to play fetch, and loves attention and affection.

But Rouse also has a daredevil side. She is a parachute-trained search and rescue dog, working with Colombia’s Air Force.

She has jumped seven times with Deputy Chief Carlos Pineros from 4,200 meters up in the air. Pineros says his partner gets nervous, just like a human. Mostly, from the noise the jet makes.

“I have to relax her. I do ‘Doga,’ which is yoga for dogs. With my breathing, and by keeping calm, I transmit that to her and she is relaxed, aware, but without stress,” Pineros says.

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For 27 years the Colombian Air Force has trained dogs of various breeds for special operations. Some can sniff out drugs, bombs and even detect foreign currency, specifically, dollar bills.

The dogs are bred and trained in an air force base outside of Bogota, known as the ‘palace of dogs.’

Air Force veterinarian and trainer, Wilmer Andres Antolinez, says the most playful dogs are the easiest to train.

“We have a motto, Consistency, patience and perseverance. Those three words are what our guides should practice to work with their canine partner,” Antolinez says.

But why parachute jumping dogs? Major Bayajordo Jose Rodriguez says Colombia’s rocky terrain, in the middle of the Andes Mountains, makes it impossible to land aircraft to get help to anyone quickly. Rescuers have to parachute in.

“In many parts of our geography it is complicated to for our armed forces to reach in certain methods of transportation, be it by land or helicopter. So we found the need for different specialized dogs to be able to reach those remote areas,” Rodriguez says.

After 10 years of loyal service, the dogs retire. Officials say they try to place them in a loving home where they get a much deserved rest.