VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – If every dog has his day, Rusty's could sure come soon.
According to sources, the Belgian Malinois – recently home from his last of six deployments overseas – has found it particularly challenging to find a market for the skills he learned as a military working dog.
“Turns out biting, growling, and launching into violent Pavlovian fits just aren’t valued skills in today’s workplace,” Rusty said. “I meet employers, tell them about my experience on the battlefield – I think it’s going great, and then they just sit there and look at me like I’m some sort of animal. Like they totally can’t relate.”
“And believe me, the fact that I’ve gone three years straight without peeing inside impresses no one,” he added.
Formerly assigned to work with Navy Special Operations Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rusty is one of thousands of canines employed in the War on Terror who is now coming home. While many will choose to retire with their adopting human handlers, Rusty is one who says he’d like to start over in an exciting new career field – if only he could find a willing employer.
“Sure, people like to pet you, scratch you behind the ear, tell you you’re a real good boy and thanks for your service, but God forbid they throw you a bone when you ask for something small in return," Rusty said, stopping to sniff a street sign. "I even applied with the police – I know, real original – but simply couldn’t compete with these young pups out there."
One opportunity Rusty says he was especially hopeful for was a receptionist opening in an allergist's office near his kennel. "The benefits were solid and I thought I'd really enjoy working with people, but when I showed up for the interview they just apologized and said I'd be a bad fit. They didn't say it, but I think it was because I'm a veteran."
"Almost makes me wish I’d just spent the last decade building spreadsheets in Excel and filing receipts to accounts payable – but how the fuck would I have done that? I’m a dog.”
While Rusty says he's proud of his service and will stay on the lookout for jobs opening up, the series of disappointments has left him anxious about what peace will mean for him and dogs like him who served.
“I’ll probably wind up on the streets eating out of a dumpster,” Rusty said. “Or under a picnic table, right off the ground. Whatever I can find, honestly. I'll eat grass and cat poop. And Lord knows I'm not above handouts.”
“Christ, I love food,” he added, salivating and spinning around three times. "Food, food, food."