Hungarian military finds mission in life for abused dog

Hungary’s military found a new mission in the life of a talented dog who was rescued from abusive owners

The Belgian Shepherd is undergoing intensive training as an explosives detection dog for the disposal of explosive munitions and warship regiment of the Hungarian Defense Forces.

At the unit’s garrison on the Danube River in the capital Budapest, Logan receives daily socialization and obedience exercises and is trained to recognize the smell of 25 different explosive substances.

“He has already begun to learn to sniff explosives in a completely homogeneous environment, and also to search motor vehicles and ships,” said Logan’s trainer, Sgt. 1st Class Balazs Nemeth.

Logan’s new role as a bomb sniffer came only after a life filled with hardship. In 2021, animal welfare officials received a report that a dog was being abused and kept in inhumane conditions in a rural residence in northeastern Hungary. During an on-site inspection, officers found Logan confined to a one-meter (3-foot) chain and suffering from malnutrition.

Several weeks later, Nemeth, the regiment’s training officer, visited the shelter where Logan was housed and began to assess his suitability to become a professional bomb sniffer.

“The moment we met him, first impressions were very positive. We saw a well-motivated dog in relatively good condition and immediately trusted him,” said Nemeth.

In a demonstration at the unit’s garrison, Nemeth opened a box containing two dozen vials of simulated explosive materials such as C-4, TNT, ammonium nitrate and others, which Logan is trained to detect.

After hiding a small package of explosive in a hidden crevice on one of the regiment’s riverboats, Nemeth brought Logan to the training area, where he immediately went to work sniffing out the package, which he found within seconds. The dog’s body tensed as it pointed with its snout at the source of the scent, alerting its handler.

Regiment commander Colonel Zsolt Szilagyi said the increased use of improvised explosive devices by extremist cells since the turn of the millennium has made it necessary to employ new methods to detect potential bombs.

“This was a challenge that the military had to respond to, and one of the best ways to detect these devices is to use explosive detection dogs,” Szilagyi said. “These four-legged comrades have been supporting the activities of our anti-bomb soldiers.”

Logan, he said, will serve as an inspector of key sites in Hungary and could be deployed alongside the country’s military on NATO missions abroad.

While rescued dogs often present challenges in training due to their often traumatic origins, Nemeth said he is confident Logan will succeed and be a valuable addition to the unit.

“Logan is very valuable because about one in 10,000 rescued dogs is fit for military service, both medically and psychologically,” he said.

Recruiting rescue dogs often reveals their unknown capabilities and allows them to find a new home where they can thrive, Szilagyi said.

“There are dogs that have great potential but for some reason have been pushed to the sidelines,” he said. “We can give these dogs a new opportunity to be placed in a family, so to speak, where they can live a proper life in loving, competent hands and be useful.”

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