TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - Ryan Carr got his first dog when he was 7. She was a Labrador named Gabby and Ryan didn’t like Gabby; she wasn’t his kind of dog. It wasn’t until 2007, when Ryan was deployed in Fallujah with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, that he saw a K-9 handler and found his passion in dogs. Now he works with a canine partner.
When Carr gets to work, Bono is always excited to see him. Carr loves this. This is why Carr loves dogs.
“I’m lucky because I get to go to work and see Bono, and he’s super pumped to see me. It’s the best of both worlds,” Ryan said. “When you come home and walk through the door at the end of the day, the dogs are so excited to see you. You’re their favorite person in the world.”
His love for dogs doesn’t just stay at work. When he gets home he is greeted by four more dogs. Dogs are his life and that’s the way he likes it.
The attitudes of his dogs are all very different and Ryan understands that. He approaches each of his dogs differently. He has, Gemma, a 1-year-old English bulldog; her father, Moto at two years old; a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois named Justice and 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, Rocco.
“My approach, from working with dogs would be that knowing each dog is different and has their own personality,” said Ryan. “If you’re going to have a dog, you have to cater toward its personality. Gemma is the sweetheart, Moto is the brat, Justice is a psycho and Rocco is the angel.”
His professional life with dogs spills over to his personal. Ryan likes his dogs obedient and through his job skills, he knows how to instill it.
“Bono is like his kid,” said Clara Carr, Ryan’s wife. “I think because of how he is at work, he expects more out of our dogs at home.”
Ryan has been with the K-9 unit for three years and Bono has been his partner the entire time. They’ve traveled, doing missions around the country and Bono is an important part of Ryan’s life. They’ve gone around the world and were utilized in almost a dozen Secret Service missions.
“My wife gives me crap sometimes. She says ‘You can’t love Bono more than your home dogs,’” Ryan said. “But Bono, he’s like my partner. When we’re actually looking for explosives, if he did find one, he’d be saving my life. So I have to treat him like a partner.”
Sometime the line between work and home gets blurred, especially when it comes to Ryan and his dogs. He works eight hours a day with Bono, before he goes home to his four other dogs.
“It’s funny because sometimes you go home and you still think you’re working with the dogs, so you talk to your dogs like work dogs. My wife reminds me all the time, ‘They’re not working dogs, Ryan.’’’
Sometimes Ryan tries some of his work techniques with his home dogs. Justice is the same breed as some of the dogs he works with.
“Justice is a really smart dog, she does listen but she’s just so hyper,” Clara said. “Ryan has his own bite guard and Justice will just automatically latch on to that thing without any real training. She loves that thing.”
Dogs are an integral and consistent part of his life. One of his home dogs is a retired military working dog from the kennel where he works. Rocco, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois, is where his work and home life meet.
“I didn’t plan on adopting Rocco,” Ryan said. “But it got to the point where he was done, no one had claimed him and not many people wanted him because he had medical problems. He over-heated really bad in 2011 and he collapsed while training. He was bleeding from his eyes, mouth, everything. The dog works 110 miles per hour. After he was evaluated and his adoption came up and no one had claimed him, I said, ‘I have the room. I have the space. I’ll take him home,’ and since he’s been home I haven’t had a problem with him.”
Rocco has been somewhat of a catalyst for Ryan’s other dogs. Rocco’s working dog habits have transferred into his retired life. Although he is now much calmer than in his working days, Rocco still knows all his commands and that level of obedience translates to the other dogs.
“Rocco was our hardest biting, hardest hitting, the most ferocious dog we had here,” Ryan said. “A day after being home, he became the calmest, sweetest, chill dog. The other dogs have started learning from him. When I tell Rocco to sit, the other ones start doing it and they start feeding off of each other like that.”
Ryan does do a good job separating his passion for his home dogs and the professionalism in his work life. Both sides will always seek his attention and love, but Bono is also there to work with and potentially save his life. He explains that all his dogs have very different personalities and that he loves that about them. He says that they always know how he feels and they take in those emotions and react the same way.
Ryan has five dogs in his life presently and with a daughter on the way, he doesn’t plan on getting any more dogs.