In honor of
combat assault dog duco
5 JULY 2021
ABOUT COMBAT ASSAULT DOG DUCO
Combat Assault Dog Duco was a Dutch born, KMPV titled Dutch Shepherd. KNPV is short for Koninklijke Nederlandse Politiehond Vereniging, which is Dutch for 'Royal Dutch Police Dog Association'. The system began in the early 1900s in Holland in order to bring dog trainers together to establish good quality working dog standards.
Duco was a duel purpose US Army Special Operations Forces (SOF) K9 that served honorably from 2012-2017 and deployed in support of combat operations for Operation Enduring Freedom.
The selection for a Combat Assault Dog (CAD) results in a 90% plus wash-out rate among some of the world's most elite canines. These CADs learn to detect human odors specific to enemy combatants, numerous explosive compounds, and clear a structure searching out Military Aged Males while bypassing children. These K9s can jump tandem with their handlers from aircraft, be fast-roped out of a helicopter, and lead the way during infils to detect ambushes and IEDs. SOF K9s have learned to switch from assault mode to detection during combat operations.
In 2012, while part of a helicopter assault force conducting a nighttime raid on an enemy compound in Afghanistan, Duco and I fell from our helicopter approximately 30 feet while infilling on the objective. I was knocked unconscious but Duco seemed to be fine. I had him checked out and nothing seemed to be wrong with Duco. Years later, I started to notice some changes in Duco’s physical abilities I believe stemmed from that fall and he was retired from active duty.
Since separating from active duty Duco has very much enjoyed the retired life with his family. He even has his own social media accounts Instagram @wardoggduco https://www.instagram.com/wardoggduco
and a Facebook account K9 Duco https://www.facebook.com/wardoggDuco/
He has also been a part of some amazing events to include working with 5.11 Tactical, Trigger Time TV, Far Cry 5 and supporting his Dad during the SOF K9 Memorial Service and the reading of “How I Became a K9 Commando”
Duco’s 5.11 Tactical video
Rick Speaking at 2018 SOF K9 Memorial Service
Duco was part of the reading of “How I Became a K9 Commando” at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum.
Trigger Time TV - We did a complete season on training a MWD
Duco was also part of training actors for Far Cry 5
Retirement has not come with out its struggles.
In November 2020 Duco was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his right rear leg. We made the decision to add longevity and quality of life to Duco and we had his leg amputated.
Unfortunately Combat Assault Dog Duco lost his battle with cancer on 5 July 2021
Our new mission is to educate handlers/owners on osteosarcoma and what to look for in your canine. We want to tell Duco’s story and keep his memory alive and his story of the amputation and chemo treatments. I have become a huge proponent of CBD in K9s and believe the benefits would greatly enhance our MWDs.
I have worked numerous SOF K9s over my career and I can tell you by far Duco is the best one, combat proven and absolutely phenomenal. If I could clone him I would, he is that impressive.
the In honor of duco project
The Mission ...
Rick Hogg, a 29-year US Army Special Ops veteran, joined forces with Scott's Wish to ensure that no Special Operations Forces (SOF) K9 handler is burdened with making medical decisions for their cherished partner in retirement due to financial constraints.
Much like their human counterparts, these dogs, having endured harsh and perilous working conditions, often require specialized medical attention upon discharge. However, unlike humans, there's no "Doggie VA" or government-funded assistance for the often substantial veterinary expenses.
This is where the “Duco Project” steps in. The initiative pays tribute to these canine heroes who served our nation, while also generating funds to cover the highly specialized care they may require post-military service.
It is thanks to dogs like Duco that many soldiers stand alive today.
The "Duco Project" also supports a range of causes when feasible, providing ballistic vests and specialized care for law enforcement K9s, sponsoring service dogs for veterans, and aiding related 501c3 organizations. It also helps cover vet bills for pets of homeless veterans via the VA and contributes to care packages for deployed Military Working Dog teams worldwide.
In Honor of Duco Items
At home, Hogg continued to work with Duco, keeping him active and sharp. Little did he know that his wife was offering this specialized combat assault dog a few cushy pet perks.
She introduced him to goldfish crackers and table scraps. He quickly developed a reputation as “the heater,” because his hot breath was always on the family’s legs in newfound anticipation of tasty handouts.
Hogg’s wife bought Duco toys, which he loved, particularly his highly prized squeaky moose. He also spent a good bit of time on the couch. He even slept in the couple’s bed, if he wanted. The dog fully embraced home life. As Hogg explained, “He earned it.”
In November of 2020, Duco was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, an aggressive form of bone cancer, in his rear right leg. Veterinarians felt they might be able to prolong and improve his quality of life by amputating the leg and administering chemotherapy. Hogg and his wife made the difficult decision to proceed with amputation and chemo, hoping for the best.
This bought the family over half a precious year together with their beloved dog.
Sadly, seven months after his surgery, Duco’s cancer returned, and this legendary, heroic and brave dog succumbed to the disease on July 5, 2021.
Rick believes that Duco is the gold standard upon which all other combat assault dogs are judged. In Rick’s words, he would have a “fleet of Ducos” if he could.
This K-9 and his handler have built a legacy together, and Hogg wants to ensure that Duco’s service to our country will never be forgotten. When asked if he believes Duco is in a better place, Hogg replies emphatically, “100 percent, dogs go to heaven!”
We think he’s right, and we are grateful that he was willing to share the life and accomplishments of his awesome dog with the world.
ATP COO comment: I cannot even express the gratitude that I have for the war dogs that fought by my side and protected us. Many of us are walking around today because they gave the ultimate sacrifice.
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Super Scout and Regan’s K-9 Hero of the Week: Combat Assault Dog Duco
This week, we want to memorialize an outstanding K-9 that worked as a Combat Assault Dog for U.S. Army Special Operations Forces.
Dutch Shepherd Duco served with handler Rick Hogg, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom from 2012-2017.
After losing his Belgian Malinois, Marco, in 2012, Hogg was given the unit’s spare or “float” dog, Duco. Hogg’s first thought after losing Marco was that he didn’t want this other dog. Anyone well-familiar with both breeds will appreciate their personality differences. But Duco quickly grew on him.
Before long, handler and dog were completely bonded. Duco’s ability to switch gears from laid back, chilling out in the kennel, to “game on,” made him uniquely effective. As Hogg explains, “His drive sold me.”
“He was an absolute beast on the battlefield,” he said. It was a perfect pairing. “Duco was an extension of me.”
Just six months after they were paired up, during a nighttime raid in Afghanistan, Duco and Hogg fell approximately 30 feet from a helicopter. Hogg was knocked unconscious, but Duco seemed to survive unscathed.
The handler/K-9 relationship is hard to define. Handlers know all too well the risks these remarkable dogs take when they head out into harm’s way. Coming to terms with that reality is never easy. Hogg drew on his faith every time Duco was tasked to venture into dangerous territory. He said a simple prayer:
“God, bring him back to me.”
And He always did.
As a dual-purpose K-9, Duco was trained to detect and to bite. He had a knack for finding bad guys where human eyes failed. He knew how to detect explosives long before the men he worked with could. This dog quickly became the one everyone hoped to have working with them. He was revered as a force-multiplying K-9 security blanket.
It is because of Duco and dogs like him that many soldiers are alive today. Hogg speaks with emotion and reverence about Duco’s heroic contributions to the fight:
“I’m here on this planet because of that dog.”
Years after the helicopter incident, Rick assessed that Duco may be suffering from some long-term injuries he sustained in the fall. He made the decision to retire Duco, allowing him to live out his days in the comfort of his own home.
In a serendipitous coincidence, Hogg was scheduled to retire at the same time that Duco was wrapping up his military career.
Prior to 2000, most military K-9s were euthanized when taken out of service. Thanks to a bill passed by Congress, these heroic dogs were given a second chance at living out their twilight years in a comfortable home environment.
Fortunately, Duco was well-suited for family life and made an excellent transition. Not all war dogs are able to do this, but Duco was special.
Both Hogg and Duco were able to retire together.
SOF K9 Memorial Service 2018 - Guest Speaker Special Operations Forces (SOF) K9 Handler Rick Hogg.
Over the last two decades, Special Operations Forces have lost SOF K9s - now known as Multi-Purpose Canines (MPCs) and Combat Assault Dogs (CADs). In Fayetteville, NC at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum is a memorial to honor these K9s killed in action.
CONSTANT VIGILANCE - The bond between a SOF handler & his K9 is eternal, trusting each other in a nameless language. Here we honor our SOF K9’s that have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Below are some of the US army sof k9s killed in action
So Cal War Dog Memorial / Educational Center
This memorial and educational center will be centered around a custom bronze sculpture of a US Serviceman and his K9 by Lena Toritch dubbed “Going Home”. This amazing centerpiece will be surrounded by dedicated custom engraved bricks for the memorialized canines. The centerpiece will face Westward into the setting sun behind the picturesque landscape to encompass the true feeling of “Going Home”. There will be benches to rest upon as well as a covered shaded area which will be used for visitors to sit and have a moment to reflect. This will be a place where young and old alike can and will learn of what these dogs and handlers did and how paramount their service is to the security of not only our country, but the entire world.
The memorial will be available to all who wish to visit, including any educational facility who wishes to learn about and pay respects to our fallen four legged heroes.
Please help us make this one of a kind public K9 memorial a reality, be a piece of MWD history and know you’ve helped keep every one of them alive by keeping their stories told. Your tax deductible donation will help construct this piece of living art and your name could be seen by all who visit when you donate to the Silver Sponsor level or above.
We thank you for your support and look forward to seeing you all at the unveiling ceremony when the memorial is finished.
Lena Toritch specializes in custom bronze memorial statues that honor our country's heroes. She created the first K9 memorial that depicts a Special Operations Forces K9. (Located at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, NC). Toritch's bronze of a Naval Special Warfare K9 is a part of the Navy SEAL Museum Memorial, which has been recently designated a National Memorial site (Fort Pierce, FL). Capturing the likenesses of fallen heroes is another of Lena's specialties. Her memorial that portrays Sgt. Dan Brown ( Idaho Fallen Soldier Memorial in Jerome, ID) was featured on The TODAY Show. We are absolutely amazed that we have this opportunity and honor to have Lena working with us to make this monument as spectacular as it deserves to be.
"Inspired by a real life story, this statue idea is very close to my heart. Finally 10 years later, it is becoming a reality, because of two great people who recognized my heart felt gratitude for our brave soldiers and K9s. It is my honor to work with USMC Working Dog trainer / handler Dustin Winn and President / Co-founder of K9 InVest Don Hunt. With their guidance and support this will be a monument like no other."
Artist Lena Toritch