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Iireland, Military K-9, honored with 21 gun salute


A US military dog has received a 21 gun salute during her funeral on Saturday at Camp Nelson Cemetery in Jessamine County, Kentucky.

Iireland, a female Belgian Malinois died in August.

Shawnda Ebert, a chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve sought permission for the service.

"Military working dogs are veterans,” Ebert said. “They deserve the same treatment as our brothers and sisters who fought over there.”

Iireland and her handler, Sergeant Joshua Sutherland, a Marine, were in Iraq in 2007 and 2008. “She was an explosive-detector dog, so any kind of explosive that could possibly be there, it was her job to sniff it out,” Ebert said.

When Sutherland came home, he was able to adopt Iireland. “These dogs become part of your family,” Ebert said. “They’re with you in times when your family can’t be. They’ve seen the same stuff you’ve seen.”

Iireland was born into the military working dog program at Lackland Air Force Base in March 2003. She initially served in the breeding program, bearing a litter of six puppies in 2005, before being deployed for the first time to Iraq in 2007. She returned home and was assigned to Sutherland in 2008.

The two patrolled for explosives for several months in Fallujah, Iraq, before returning to the U.S. in early 2009.

“Iireland on the job was just a ton of drive,” Sutherland said. “She would work until she’d die. There was no quit in that dog.”

With Iireland at his side, he said he was never concerned for his safety.

“If something was there, we were going to find it,” Sutherland said.

Sutherland called Iireland’s death “the toughest loss that I’ve ever had to endure.”

"This dog has rank," Colonel Tracy Lucas said at her funeral. "This dog has two Purple Hearts and she served her handler well and saved countless lives."

"She's brought a lot of joy into our lives losing her it's probably the toughest thing I've ever been through in my life."

Dozens of people from around the state flocked to the cemetery to say their goodbyes.

Mr Sutherland's grandmother says her brother served in Vietnam. He died four years ago and she says honouring Iireland at Camp Nelson brings her comfort.

"I'm just so thankful they're both here together now. It helps me with my brother being gone," she said.

It's rare to touch so many lives in just a few years, but for Iireland no task was too big.

"She's done more in her life than most men and women ever will," Sutherland said.

Iireland couldn't be buried at the national cemetery. Instead, the family buried her at a family farm nearby before Saturday's service.

Use this link to see a video of the ceremony.

Military Dog


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