For thousands of years, dogs have comforted us, protected us, and given unconditional love. Nowhere is that remarkable bond more critical than on the battlefields worldwide, where soldiers rely on them for protection and company during wartime.
For Mike Monahan, that bond formed with a dog named Chico.
Monahan served in the Vietnam War fifty-one years ago as a dog handler in the 46th Scout Dog Platoon when he was paired with a four-legged soldier named Chico.
Partnering up with Chico would not only save Monahan’s life but put him on a mission to save 50,000 dogs per year. 1,000 per year since Chico died in honor of his memory.
Chico was Monahan’s best friend, partner, and companion.
“It was really a committed relationship between Chico and me for a whole year, and on top of that, he saved my life, and there’s a lot of guilt leaving him behind. It’s been 51 years since I left Chico behind,” Monahan said.
Chico’s original owner in South Dakota donated him to the U.S. Army. Chico was one of the thousands of dogs given to the Army by Americans during the Vietnam War.
The U.S. Military trained these dogs to sniff out danger and protect the troops. Monahan and Chico were a patrol team, and Chico’s specialty was to detect tripwires.
Chico saved the lives of many soldiers, including Monahans. Monahan was awarded the Army medal of commendation for their efforts, and Chico got a steak dinner.
In 1970 Monahan’s tour of duty was up, and Chico was assigned to another handler.
Here is an excerpt from Monahan’s book “Chico’s Promise” about the last time seeing each other penned from Chico’s perspective.
“Then one day Mike entered my kennel, took a knee, put his arms around me, and said, ‘I love you, I love you boy. I’m sorry I can’t do anything about this. I love you, boy. Take care of yourself. Goodbye Chico. Thanks for saving my life. I promise to never forget about what a hero you are in my eyes.’ Then I heard a voice say, ‘Monahan, time to go. Jeep’s waiting,’ and just like that, it was over, once again I was all alone. Abandoned.”
When the war ended, Monahan tried to find Chico. Monahan was sad to learn Chico was put down the year after he returned home. Chico was one of the 4,500 military dogs euthanized or abandoned at the end of the war.
Monahan has authored the book “Chico’s Promise” to honor Chico and the memory of all 4,500 plus dogs that served in Vietnam.
“My dream is that millions of people will read Chico’s story, fall in love with him, become inspired, and join forces to improve the treatment of dogs by eliminating abuse and abandonment. I want to save dogs in his memory. I want him to be a national hero. He deserves it.”
Monahan’s goal is to help save 50,000 dogs by paying for adoption fees at no-kill shelters through the proceeds from the sale of “Chico’s Promise.”
To help fund or purchase “Chico’s Promise,” click here.