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This Job Bites: Actors Visit Military Working Dogs

Actors do some crazy things for their jobs, but it’s not every day they choose to put on a padded dog bite sleeve and get attacked by a military working dog with 300 pounds of pressure behind its bite.

A man wearing a special padded sleeve gets bit by a military working dog during a demonstration.
Test Bite
Actor Noah Bean tests out the special padded sleeve used to demonstrate how tough the bite of military working dog is. Bean and other actors visited Fort Meade, Md., as part of the Arts in the Armed Forces program, April 12, 2019.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Jose Gonzalez, DOD
VIRIN: 190412-F-ZZ999-951C

A few actors recently watched some drug-sniffing dogs in action at the 2nd Military Working Dog Detachment at Fort Meade, Maryland. They learned all about their extensive training and discipline for missions such as seeking out improvised explosive devices when the dogs are deployed to Afghanistan. Axa, a 7-year-old Belgian Tervuren, ran through the detachment’s obstacle course and repeatedly, on command, attacked whoever chose to step into the dog bite sleeve and jacket.

The visitors were impressed.

''I’m lucky if we’re able to get our dogs to sit,'' joked actor Reed Birney, who notably played the vice president in ''House of Cards.''

A soldier wearing a specialized padded sleeve gets bit by a military working dog.
Working Dog
Army SFC Chris Kemp, of the 2nd Military Working Dog Detachment at Fort Meade, Md., demonstrates the skills of one of the detachment’s working dogs, a 7-year-old Belgian Tervuren named Axa, April 12, 2019.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Jose Gonzalez, DOD
VIRIN: 190412-F-ZZ999-618C

''I guess I’d been aware that dogs are deployed overseas to smell bombs and things like that, but I’ve never seen it this close,'' Birney said. ''To see the guys with their dogs and the devotion and the care and the training is fascinating.''

Birney and actors Annie Golden and Noah Bean visited the post as part of Arts in the Armed Forces, a nonprofit organization founded by ''Star Wars'' actor Adam Driver — a Marine Corps veteran himself — to help bridge the military-civilian divide. During Arts in the Armed Forces excursions, which include overseas installations, the actors get to see what military life is like, then perform for the installation’s service members, veterans, military support staff and their families.


Golden, who plays Norma Romano in ''Orange Is the New Black,'' said her favorite part of the trips is the question-and-answer session with military members after their performances. Her father served in World War II, and she has a nephew who served in the Marine Corps, so she understands some of the struggles service members and their families go through.

''[My nephew] went to the Philippines for the recovery, rescue and cleanup after the earthquakes [in 2013]. There were four Marines who had gone down in a helicopter and were missing for a weekend, and we were beside ourselves. So, it’s very real to me, the sacrifice,'' Golden said.

Actors sit and stand on a stage during a performance.
Adam Driver
Actor Adam Driver, founder of Arts in the Armed Forces and a Marine Corps veteran, performs with other actors during a tour of U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys, South Korea, Aug. 14, 2016.
Photo By: Army photo by Ryan Noble
VIRIN: 160814-A-ZZ999-791
Civilians, soldiers and two military working dogs pose for a group photo.
Actors and Dog Detachment
Actors with the Arts in the Armed Forces program pose with members of the 2nd Military Working Dog Detachment at Fort Meade, Md., ahead of a planned performance, April 12, 2019.
Photo By: Air Force Senior Airman Jose Gonzalez
VIRIN: 190412-F-ZZ999-196C

The group was incredibly thankful to get such an up-close look at a part of American life that they don’t often see.

''To be able to come and actually be with active service members and to get to know more intimately what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, and how proficient and incredible they are, I think it’s rewarding as a citizen … and important to have human interaction with the people who are responsible for our safety,'' Bean said.

Videos by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Jennifer LeBron

(This article was originally published April 18, 2019.)

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