Michael Paterniti, author of “Hero Dogs: A Soldier’s Best Friend”

Michael Paterniti—the New York Times bestselling author of “The Telling Room” and journalist who’s written for such publications as Harpers, Esquire and GQ (where he works as a correspondent)—discusses “Hero Dogs: A Soldier’s Best Friend,” the cover story he wrote for the June issue of National Geographic. michael-paternitiPaterniti recounts the extensive reporting involved, including connecting via “Hero Dogs” photographer Adam Ferguson with Jose Armenta, the military dog handler occupying the center of the article, and propelling the narrative. Paterniti explains that after some initial reticence, Armenta spoke quite candidly with him about the training and tribulations—for him and Zenit, the German Shepherd he was paired with—and then the assignment of locating improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in Afghanistan. Paterniti addresses the array of feelings and situations Armenta experiences after he steps on an IED–with the injuries so severe that both legs had to be amputated above the knee—war_dogs_MM8119_0614_010including the anger and jealousy he felt when Zenit, with whom he’d forged a powerful bond, was reassigned to another handler. In describing that Armenta and Zenit are ultimately reunited (in part, because Zenit is diagnosed with canine PTSD), Paterniti notes the recovery boon of this reunion for man and dog, and that Armenta is now married, a new father, and that Zenit has siblings in the form of two Boston Terriers. We also spend a moment discussing the stellar photograph featuring all of them, taken by Adam Ferguson, and presented below. Apart from Paterniti picture, all photos © by Adam Ferguson/National Geographic. (http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/06/war-dogs/paterniti-text)

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All photos © by Adam Ferguson/National Geographic (apart from the Paterniti picture)

 

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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