Max the Belgian Malinois was trained to assist Russian soldiers during the invasion of Ukraine. But now, he has switched sides and is helping protect Ukrainians instead. He had a long journey between his two roles, but he seems genuinely happy in his new position.
Russian soldiers left the three-year-old working dog behind in Ukraine. The exact reason is unknown, but Max seemed scared and malnourished all alone. So, Ukrainians didn’t hesitate to reach out to him and show him some kindness. All it took was a little love to convince him to become loyal to the Ukrainians instead of the Russians.
Abandoned By His Trainers
When Russian soldiers retreated from one of the villages of the Mykolaiv region, they left Max behind. Some sources say he was found severely malnourished on the battlefield, while others claim he ran away from Russian troops when loud sounds spooked him. It’s unclear which version is true, but either way, he was lonely and scared.
A Ukrainian found the dog wandering alone, so they took him in. Valentyna Dowbush gave Max a meal, which was all it took to convince the pup to stay with them.
“He ran up to the fence and looked into the yard. I carried a saucepan of food to him and then he jumped over the fence, ran up to me, and went to the kitchen behind me. That’s how he stayed,” said Dowbush.
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Max quickly befriended other Ukrainians in the village, and soon, people were offering Dowbush lots of money for the dog. However, she knew the military dog could help her country, so she gave him to the Ukrainian forces instead.
Max Switches Sides
When Ukraine soldiers inspected Max, they noticed that he was wearing a camouflage collar that said “5.45 Defender.” His collar also stated that his name was Bucks, but Riddick, the fighter and cynologist who decided to care for the dog, renamed him Max.
At first, Riddick was unsure if Max would warm up to him, but it didn’t take long for the dog to prove his loyalty.
“Our acquaintance was very unusual for me. There was fear, because the dog is not so familiar to me. But Max immediately approached me – we immediately found a common language with him,” Riddick said.
Riddick learned that Max was trained to detect weapons and ammunition. However, he only knew commands in Russian, so Riddick is teaching him Ukrainian commands too. The dog is a quick learner, and he seems eager to assist Ukrainian soldiers.
Ready to Defend Ukrainians
Max has been a great addition to Ukraine’s forces. Not only is he a great companion, but he’s always willing to learn new tasks to better assist his humans. He has quickly become a favorite among Ukraine soldiers, and they can’t understand why Russian troops would leave such an incredible canine behind.
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“We are very grateful to the family for deciding to pass on the dog to the Ukrainian military instead of selling [him],” said Dmitry, a member of the National Guard of Ukraine.
Sadly, the Russian invasion of Ukraine doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. So, Ukrainians still need all the support they can get. Max is just one of many dogs helping out in the war. Max has been through a lot, so he’s both lucky and brave to be fighting alongside his new loving family.
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