The Value of Teamwork: Meet Kevin Hanrahan
Last week, Kevin Hanrahan was kind enough to sit down with us here at HABRI Central and share his experiences relating to the human-animal bond and his motivation to start his online blog.
Kevin Hanrahan has seen first-hand the power of the human-animal bond and how that teamwork can be the difference between life and death. Mr. Hanrahan is an active member of the United States Army as a Lieutenant Colonel and has served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. While abroad, he witnessed how military teams depend on the life-saving work dogs and their trainers accomplish and wanted to make sure their stories were told.
This led him to create his blog http://khanrahan.com/ where he shares the stories of military men, women and their dog companions. Mr. Hanrahan launched his blog in January 2012 and since has had over 350,000 visitors to his site. He received the idea to start a blog after attending a literary conference in 2011.
Mr. Hanrahan has always had an affection for dogs since he was a little boy and was introduced to stories like Where the Red Fern Grows and The Call of the Wild. He personally felt the impact of the human-animal bond after returning from Iraq in 2005 and bringing home a dog of his own, a Vizsla named Sammy. Sammy helped him cope through a difficult time by always being happy to see him and offering him comfort when other aspects of his life were falling apart.
Military working dogs
While serving duty in 2011, Mr. Hanrahan oversaw the military dog program in Afghanistan and witnessed the role dogs exhibited in the line of duty. He knew from personal experience the positive impact dogs could have on a soldier after a tour of duty, but with this command, he also learned how dogs were saving lives in the battlefield. He started writing because he wanted people to know about the work dogs were doing within the military and share their stories.
Dogs have been utilized officially by the United States military since World War II. Dogs were used in the Pacific Theater and Western Front as scouts, sentries, and messengers and have continued to be used in various capacities since. Currently in the Middle East, dogs are matched with a soldier and are trained in explosive detection. Mr. Hanrahan estimates there are about 3,000 working dogs within the military service that are specially trained. The soldier-dog pair works as a team where the dog is trained to find a scent, while the handler learns how to read the dog’s signals and handle the dog, especially in dangerous situations.
Launching his Blog
Mr. Hanrahan’s blog serves as a platform to share real stories about the work dogs are doing for our country in the military. When asked, he mentioned how a lot of people are not even aware that dogs are used in the military. Mr. Hanrahan stresses how important he feels that the public understand and know what dogs are doing for the military. They need to recognize that dogs don’t just provide therapy to soldiers after the war, but work alongside the soldiers on duty.
He finds his blog content and stories for his site through his own research, personal connections, and referrals from others. The writing style he utilizes for his blog is unique in how he brings the readers into the story. He doesn’t just report the facts, but reenacts the story from the soldier’s perspective. When asked about his approach, Mr. Hanrahan explained that he wanted readers to be put into the soldiers’ heads and intentionally wanted his posts to come across as stories you might share with your kids.
The human-animal connection
The most rewarding aspect Mr. Hanrahan finds in his work is in the response he receives from his readers, as well as the soldiers. They express a new understanding and thanks for the dog’s and soldier’s role. It helps many of his readers relate and understand what a soldier experiences abroad.
Mr. Hanrahan believes the study of the human-animal bond is important and the dependency we show toward animals is an example of the need we have for them. He explains “there is something to the bond that simply makes us better people. The unconditional love of animals is something I wish that humans could have.”
In the future he hopes to see therapy dogs recognized as a viable option for soldiers suffering from PTSD (currently it is not a recognized form of treatment) and makes an effort to share his views through his writing. He also addresses issues such as military dog rights, women in the military, and therapy dogs.
Mr. Hanrahan stays busy as an active duty officer, spending time with his family, and continuing to write and share these amazing stories about teamwork between a soldier and their dog. His first novel, Paws on the Ground is currently being shopped with publishers and he is excited to see where that leads.
Read more about Mr. Hanrahan
Mr. Hanrahan shared several links to stories he wrote when he first launched his site, as well his own story and experience with the human-animal bond:
You can read Marc and Anax’s story here http://khanrahan.com/marc-and-anax/
You can read Noah and Chuck’s story here http://khanrahan.com/noah-and-chuck/
You can read about Kevin Hanrahan here http://khanrahan.com/2012/04/27/a-dog-save-a-soldier/
If interested in learning more about Mr. Hanrahan or reading more about military dogs and the work they are doing you can find his blog at http://khanrahan.com/ or he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org