In the comfort of one's own home, a dog may be just a man's best friend, a fun companion or walking buddy.
But on the battlefield during a war, a dog becomes a partner and, sometimes, a fellow soldier that can end up losing her life.
That was the experience of one Bel Air man, Marine Lance Cpl. Kent Ferrell, whose time in Afghanistan with his "military working dog," or MWD, Zora, was recently filmed for a new documentary.
The two-hour special called "Glory Hounds" was set to air Thursday at 8 p.m. on Animal Planet and features Ferrell along with four other members of the military who worked closely with animal companions on their missions in "some of the most volatile regions in Afghanistan," according to Animal Planet.
Ferrell, 22, was raised with a golden retriever that made a "huge impact" on him, before being set up with his German shepherd Zora on the Afghanistan trip, according to a press release.
"Their partnership is pragmatic and personal; many lives depend on Zora's ability to sniff out IEDs before they explode, but to Lance Cpl. Ferrell, Zora is more than a defense weapon – she's his sister in arms," the release states. "As a warrior dog, she's prepared to make the biggest sacrifice of all."
Zora is one of about 600 dogs working in the armed forces today, used to find and signal for explosive devices and track insurgents.
They have also become "one of the Taliban's prime targets," according to the release.
"When Osama Bin Laden was killed, a military working dog was part of the team on the ground, working alongside his handler to help capture him," the release says.
Animal Planet spent a year filming in the active war zone after more than a year of discussion among producers and four branches of the military.
Camera teams then had specialized training in West Virginia to understand canine behavior on the battlefield before spending six weeks in Afghanistan.
The show was produced by Ten100.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun