An abandoned Russian war dog has swapped sides – and is now saving Ukrainian soldiers on the battlefield.
Belgian Malinois Max, 3, was found starving by Ukrainians in the Mykolaiv region and was nursed back to health.
He has now been redeployed as a minesweeping dog after being taught to understand Ukrainian commands.
Dmitry, a member of the National Guard of Ukraine, said: ‘From now on, Max will serve on the right side, defending Ukraine and nibbling Russian asses.’
Max has now been redeployed as a minesweeping dog after being taught Ukrainian commands
A Ukrainian soldier deactivates anti tank mines before repositioning them to the frontline closer to Russian troops
His comrade added: ‘Max has become a real favourite with the guards.
‘We can’t understand why the Russians would leave behind such as lovely animal.
‘Ukrainians love dogs, they regard them as part of the family.’
Max was found still wearing a camouflaged collar issued to the Russian hounds.
A British special forces soldier told the Daily Star: ‘Malinois are the same breed used by the SAS and the SBS. They are brave, highly intelligent and athletic animals.
‘They are tremendously loyal but Max has obviously been convinced that the Ukrainians are now his new masters.’
He added: ‘I’m very surprised that one of these animals was actually abandoned by the Russians because they are a highly-prized asset.
‘Also the bond between a dog and its handler is very strong.
‘It would be like leaving a member of your family behind.’
Max is not the only pooch who is making an effort to protect Ukrainians.
Jack Russell Patron is a national hero, having recently been awarded a medal for valour by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has 250,000 Instagram followers and is the star of billboards symbolising his country’s defiance of Vladimir Putin.
Patron the Jack Russell has become a billboard worthy war hero as his bomb disposal skills have helped the team find over 200 Russian landmines and unexploded bombs
Originally bought to appear in pedigree dog shows, Patron has detected more than 200 deadly Russian landmines and unexploded bombs.
Wagging his tail, Patron – whose name translates to Bullet in English – earns his reward of a piece of cheese from his owner and handler Mykhailo Iliev. He has to be careful with the treats. Patron weighs 4kg, handily less than the 5kg that sets off most Russian munitions.
The two-year-old pet found fame when Ukraine’s State Emergency Service posted a video online of their mascot working in the war-torn northern city of Chernihiv. He received his medal at the presidential palace in Kyiv with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was visiting, looking on.
As we travel to the landmine- strewn forests around Chernihiv, troops and police officers at checkpoints cheer Patron and pose for selfies. ‘He gets a lot more tired now because of all the attention,’ says Mykhailo. ‘But it’s good to keep up the guys’ morale.’
Patron even helps the digging-in of the explosives before they are destroyed
Patron, the medal winning explosives dog pictured with his owner 33 year old Mykhailo Iliev
Zelenskiy awarded Patron at a news conference in Kyiv with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
He is the ‘soul and mascot’ of the group and helps the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SES) in clearing explosives
Patron sniffs out entire sites and detects bombs with support from his 19 strong bomb disposal team
Reaching a clearing, Patron soon finds abandoned Russian trenches crammed with empty cases of missiles for Russia’s Grad truck-mounted rocket launchers. Wearing his blue military harness, adorned with an embroidered bullet, Patron darts through the thicket to sniff out live munitions.
After buying Patron, Mykhailo soon realised the dog could help his work as a bomb disposal expert.
‘My wife is also in the services and there was no one at home to look after him, so I have taken him to work with me every day since he was two months old,’ he says.
The Jack Russell terriers bravery has become something of an internet hit for his exploits
Patron continues to help pyrotechnicians in the Chernihiv region to clean the land of Russian ‘gifts’
Sometimes, at the end of a day of hard work, Patron the dog is rewarded with a cheesy treat
‘This is his life, it is all he has known. It is just a matter of chance that we have such a capable dog. He is not a service dog, he is my pet, but he has an amazing nose and is an avid learner. He was meant to be a show dog but his destiny was to save people’s lives, not to win prizes.’
From six months, Patron was trained to detect TNT and gunpowder. When he does, he stops rigid and stands with his nose down until Mykhailo and his team approach.