Research to Real Life

Ronie Kendig is an award-winning, bestselling author who grew up an Army brat. After twenty-plus years of marriage, she and her hunky hero husband have a full life with four children, a Maltese Menace and a retired military working dog in Northern Virginia. Author and speaker, Ronie loves engaging readers through her Rapid-Fire Fiction novels. Ronie can be found at, on Facebook (, Twitter (@roniekendig), and Goodreads (

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Over the last few years, I’ve spent a great deal of time researching military working dogs for my series, A Breed Apart. Though I’ve always been an animal lover, researching these dogs and their handlers developed within me a deep sense of respect and fascination. I could not watch enough videos or see enough demonstrations. You could say, I fell in love with MWDs (in fact, please do!).

Through that research, I learned that in 2001 a vital bill was signed into law by then-president, Bill Clinton. This law, nicknamed Robbie’s Law, allowed military working dogs (MWD) to be adopted out to domestic settings after extensive and multiple evaluations of their personality and behavior. In fact, in two of my novels, Trinity: Military Working Dog and Beowulf: Combat Explosives Detection Dog, the dogs were both retired.

When a dog is chosen to retire, generally a former handler is given the first chance to adopt the retiring dog, and then the military will, if the dog can continue working (for whatever reason), offer them to working dog situations (sheriffs departments, etc.).

However, the times when a dog is now adopted by a former handler, they are adopted to a family waiting on a very long adoptions list. Thanks to the hard work of MWD Cairo, who took part in the takedown of bin Laden, the demand for adoptable MWDs skyrocketed. The wait list is currently 12-18 months, depending on what an adopter is willing to take responsibility for (health issues).

My husband and I knew immediately, we’d want to adopt a four-legged hero once we were able. So, in April 2013, we put in our application. After installing a 6’ fence, we were at the top of the Lackland Air Force Base’s MWD adoption coordinator. We anxiously sat at home, waiting. . .waiting. . .waiting for the call.

Finally, that call came February 26, 2014. Though I was very sick and could hardly talk, I felt like I was flying. Lackland had a “very special dog” named Vvolt N629 He is a 5 year old Belgian Malinois. The very spelling of his name (with two first letters the same) indicated he’d been bred through the Depart of Defense’s Military Working Dog Breeding (MWD) Program there at Lackland. Vvolt was being retired because the demanding and rigorous life of an MWD was too much for his joints.

My teens and I drove to Texas and Adoption Day took place on March 10th. When we pulled into the MWD training area, it was incredible to hear the 600+ dogs barking and see some training. What I’d written about for three years had come to life!
As a writer and one with an intense curiosity, I’d done research on Vvolt before going to Lackland, but nothing—nothing could prepare me for meeting this impressive canine in person.

I kid you not—he walked in with an air of raw power. Intelligent, sleek, powerful, he was 80 pounds of raw, pulling power who has served and deployed in our country’s military, protecting not only our soldiers, but even the president and first lady! As some friends have said—we should salute this hero when he stalks into the room.

Vvolt has already become an integral part of our lives. He’s a wickedly-smart dog with a truckload of personality, but he’s also a bit of a goof and a lover. What an honor to provide for this four-legged hero!
I have an very renewed and much stronger awe and respect of the military working dog community and these incredible military heroes–both the four-legged and the two-legged!

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Ronie’s latest release: Beowulf: Explosives Detection Dog
is now available!!

Beowulf—a hulky, brindle-coated bullmastiff—is the only “boy” for
Timbrel Hogan. And she has a history to remind her why. But when
Timbrel, a handler at A Breed Apart, embarks on a mission to detect WMDs
in Afghanistan, she reunites with Tony “Candyman” VanAllen and her
no-other-man philosophy is challenged.

While tension mounts between
Timbrel and Tony, the team comes under fire after Beowulf gets a “hit.”
When tragedy threatens Tony’s career and Timbrel’s courage, they must
maneuver through an intricate plot and a mission like no other.