Ex-Service Dog Adoption: Bringing a Furry Veteran Home

ex-service dog

Ex-Service Dog Adoption

Considering ex-service dog adoption comes with a lot of questions one of them being whether the retired dog will be happy in your home. By making a few living adjustments, both you and your new canine friend should be able to co-exist together.

Soldiers get served with Intel by service dogs while out camping in the trenches. These furry soldiers wear vests filled with medical and emergency supplies for their handlers. Fellow human soldiers love them for their stealth in ambushing enemies or sniffing out mine bombs. Some of them are actually big and strong enough to pull a wounded soldier out of a war-zone.

This is the life of a professional service dog, a call of duty he is so proud of and always lives up to.

However, there comes a time when a specialized working dog has to retire from his prestigious post. When this happens, he still has a few more years ahead of his life. The dog’s original trainer may adopt the retired canine to help train other dogs into services. Alternatively, a loving family may opt to re-home the retired canine and make him comfortable for the rest of his life.

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Reasons why an Ex-Service Dog Retires from Duty

A military dog may retire from service if they come of age. Normally, a service dog is required to serve for a maximum of 6 to 8 years before being pull out of the military. Some dogs still have more juice in them to drive them a couple more years before they hang their vest as well. All in all, when the tell-tale signs of old age begin to show, it is in the dog’s best interest that they retire.

An ex-service dog may be released from duty if they are not physically fit to continue with their duty. Retirement may be due to the dog losing its sight, one or two legs, partial or complete deafness, or canine PTSD. If the dog is not in the same healthy shape as they were when signing up, it may be time to hang up the vest.

A dog in service will also be retired if they develop sluggishness. Perhaps they are unable to keep up with their partner anymore or they seem to require more sleep than usual. If the dog does not show much enthusiasm for the job even after a good rest, it may be time to leave the service.

Generally, a service dog must always show a readiness to serve despite how many ghastly missions they have been to. However, dogs have feelings as well and there is only so much a service dog can take. Being released from duty does not mean a service dog is being punished for his unwillingness to serve again. They just have had their run and it is time they live a different life- often a quiet one surrounded by loving humans.

Special Cases for Ex-Service Dog Adoption

On the other hand, a service dog may be retired from duty even before going to war. This happens during training sessions when new cadets are being recruited to serve. If the dog handler makes an informed decision that a dog is not fit to serve (probably because of their temperament or lack of enthusiasm for the job) they may decide to release the pooch for adoption. This is where the everyday human dog-lover gets lucky. Adopting an ex-service dog comes with benefits you won’t find in an ordinary dog bought off the shelter or gifted to you by someone who understands your love for pets. A released dog comes with training that could actually save your life if need be.

Qualities of an Ex-Service Dog

Service dogs are handpicked for their high intelligence and determined nature to serve in their full capacity. They are known for their resilience and ability to empathize with their fellow human soldiers while in combat. They know how to take and deliver orders where need be and they also can save a life by delivering supplies or even pulling an unconscious person from a dangerous situation; like a burning vehicle or a crossfire.

It is also amazing that service dogs have their own ranks and duties in the military. Some special working dogs are trained only to deliver supplies and Intel to soldiers. Other dogs are trained to engage in combat and infiltrate enemy lines. Moreover, there are service dogs that are trained to offer care and support to a wounded person.

These dogs are rarely phased when in war. Their calm demeanor is matched with high intuition, incredible focus and have the bravery to dive into dire situations together with their soldier partners. And that’s just a tip of the iceberg.

Best Qualities of an Ex-service Dog

Perhaps the best quality of an ex-service dog is the ability to behave professionally and still be loving and friendly to his human owner. If they can find a new home with caring humans, they will not hesitate to show these outstanding qualities.

An ex-service dog will offer emotional support in times of acute depression and hopelessness. There are special working dogs that are medically trained to detect shifts in moods, migraines or even the onset of seizures or diabetic attacks (they are cool like that!). You not only have a friendly and fun canine buddy by your side, but you are also getting a 24/hour emergency hotline that comes with four paws and a cute wet nose.

So you have all to gain and nothing to lose when you consider ex-service dog adoption. If you are ready to take that leap of faith, here is what you need to know about adopting a released service dog.

Tips for Adopting an Ex-Service Dog

Ex-service dogs that are being retired from duty almost always end up getting adopted by their trainer or the soldier they were in service with. Fortunately, there are those released service dogs that find their way into the homes of ordinary but loving humans. If you really want to adopt one of these amazing intelligent canines as new members of your family, there is normally a vetting process to follow.

An ex-service dog is a highly intelligent animal and it will require a human who understands its needs for successful re-homing. A potential service dog owner is required to be at least 18 years of age (or 21 to be safe) to be included on the waiting list. You will also be required to visit the adoption center to have a first encounter with the dog.

Ex-service Dog Needs

Ex-service dogs require a lot of exercise which means you need plenty of free space for playtime. Ensure there is a public place where you can always take the dog for exercise. If you own a private yard the better. You will also be required to sign a contract that states the dog will only be used as a pet and not a service animal. You must also acknowledge that you will care for all of the dog’s needs while living with you.

If you believe you have all of the above in order, then you are ready to adopt your first ex-service dog. There are pet adoption websites you can go to and begin your search for potential release service dogs for adoption. There will be an online application form to be filled and submitted together with your address and contacts. You will be required to pay an adoption fee of between $300 and $500 to bring a service dog home once your application is approved.


Are you considering ex-service dog adoption? Great, you are one of the cool humans who does not mind re-homing an excellent canine soldier who earned his stripes. Now all he needs to do is show you his loving and friendly side so he earns a spot in your cozy living room couch as well.

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