Patron, Ukraine’s little hero sniffer dog, awarded by Zelensky

Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday honored Patron, a small sniffer dog who has already helped find more than 200 explosive devices since the start of the war in Ukraine.

A little furball war hero. Patron, a Ukrainian army dog, was honored on Sunday by President Volodymyr Zelensky for his loyal service. This two-year-old Jack Russell, whose name means “cartridge” in Ukrainian, helps soldiers detect mines and explosive devices in the city of Chernihiv.

Boss, dressed in his deminer’s outfit, in Ukraine.

© REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

In total, since the beginning of the Russian invasion, he would have found more than 200 traps left by the Russians, reports the “New York Times”. In addition to fulfilling his mission brilliantly, he also serves as the country’s mascot and has more than 200,000 followers on the Instagram account opened in his name. In the photos published on the social networks, we discover the little dog dressed in a protective vest, posing in a war zone or having fun in the grass with a ball.

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“Originally, the dog was trained for hunting. He is our family dog, not a service dog. But he has an extremely developed sense of smell! Before the war, I took him from time to time with me in the field”, commented the master of Patron, Mykhailo Iliev, member of the civil protection, to BFMTV, last April. The “New York Times” clarifies that the spotlight on Patron could be part of Ukraine’s efforts to control the war narrative with stories likely to be shared around the world. According to experts, communication through strong images has been an essential part of Ukraine since the beginning of the war.

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On Twitter, a video of the animal getting into a soldier’s car to go on a mission has been viewed almost a million times in a matter of weeks. Volodymyr Zelensky recalled on Sunday how much the dog was adored in the country, by adults and children, and highlighted its important role in protecting the population.

Patron was honored Sunday in Ukraine, in the presence of Volodymyr Zelensky and Justin Trudeau.

Patron was honored Sunday in Ukraine, in the presence of Volodymyr Zelensky and Justin Trudeau.

© REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Patron was not only honored by the President of Ukraine. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, on a surprise visit to the country, also participated in the ceremony. On Facebook, the Emergency Situations Ministry wrote: “Boss was extremely happy to meet a new friend from Ukraine. Even if Mr. Trudeau didn’t have Patron’s favorite piece of cheese on him. A moment of levity as the war continues. On Sunday, sixty people who were in a school were killed in a Russian strike in the Lugansk region in eastern Ukraine.

Patron during the presentation of his medal on Sunday, surrounded by Justin Trudeau and Volodymyr Zelensky.

Patron during the presentation of his medal on Sunday, surrounded by Justin Trudeau and Volodymyr Zelensky.

© Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS

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