Hearing loss or damage isn’t only a problem for soldiers in the midst of a cacophony of explosions and associated sounds of combat. Man’s best friend relies on sensitive hearing to make sense of the world and seemingly innocuous sounds can cause real problems for Military Working Dogs.
That’s one reason why Canine Auditory Protection System has been developed through an Army Research Office initiative with Zeteo Tech, Inc. and a retired Navy officer turned professor at the University of Cincinnati.
“Even a short helicopter flight can affect a dog’s hearing, resulting in impaired performance and inability to hear the handler's commands, which can hinder the mission,” said Dr. Stephen Lee, senior scientist at Army Research Office in an Army release. “This new technology protects the canine while on missions and can extend the dog's working life.”
CAPS uses a lightweight, high-quality acoustic absorption materials to block unwanted sounds, according to the release. And it uses flexible materials that conform to the dog’s head, giving better fit and protection with proper sealing around the ear, unlike conventional canine hearing protection.
“Military Working Dogs are one of the greatest psychological deterrents in the war on terror and protect our military and civilian population on a daily basis,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan Borjas, kennel master, 93d MWD Det.
The system looks like a close-fitting hood, or a “snood-style headgear,” according the release. And that helps it uniformly distribute pressure to hold it in place without challenging straps.
It’s compatible with goggles used by MWDs and is slime enough that it can still be used in tight spaces.
So it wouldn’t have caused a problem for “Conan,” the MWD involved in the recent raid in Syria that helped take out ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“This new technology will extend canines ability to work in a wide range of environments in combination with the Soldier and autonomous systems that could greatly enhance situational awareness of the individual Soldier in the future and empower a broader use for military working dogs in operations,” Lee said in the release.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.