Is Conan the Hero Military Dog a He or She? Confusion Reigns at the White House

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Photo of the military working dog involved in the raid that killed ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (Via Twitter)
Photo of the military working dog involved in the raid that killed ISIS founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. (Via Twitter)

At the White House on Monday, Conan the military working dog was a good boy, then a good girl, then a good boy again.

Conan, a member of the Army's elite Delta Force who famously sustained combat wounds while helping to take out take out ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, got a meeting with President Donald Trump this week and was presented with awards for bravery.

As pool reporters covered the event, confusion reigned over a longtime point of speculation: whether Conan, a Belgian Malinois, was in fact a she.

"A White House official confirmed to your pooler on background that Conan the dog is female," White House pooler Hunter Walker, a correspondent for Yahoo News, wrote in an early dispatch for the event. "The president used male pronouns to identify the dog during the earlier event. Your pooler retracts the earlier comment that Conan was a very good boy. Conan is apparently a very good girl. Good girl Conan."

Related: Trump Awards Conan the Hero Special Forces Dog a Medal at the White House

This information was received with joy among the reporter community -- not least because no female member of the Army's historically all-male elite Delta Force has ever received an award from the White House. But the celebration was short-lived.

Walker released another pool report announcing that he had to retract yet again: according to another White House official, Conan was a boy after all.

"Your pooler retracts prior statements calling Conan a 'good boy' and a 'good girl,'" he wrote. "Conan is a good dog."

That much is certainly true.

Let's ignore the technical questions here about whether gender matters in a dog in the first place. Instead, let's just enjoy this universal truth: dogs are entirely awesome and working dogs are even more awesome.

Conan's incredible dog actions are now the stuff of legend. During the October raid the dog is said to have chased Baghdadi into a tunnel during a two-hour-long nighttime raid on a compound in Syria. Once the dog chased him into the closed tunnel, Baghdadi detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and several children officials said he used as human shields.

The dog was slightly wounded in the raid, treated and returned to his handler.

Conan was presented with a medal and a certificate during the White House ceremony. Details are scarce on what exactly the medal is -- there aren't any official military medals for bravery for military working dogs, although they can be awarded the Purple Heart.

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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