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Meet Patron, a bomb-sniffing Jack Russell terrier who has become a Ukrainian hero

A Ukrainian pyrotechnic squad works alongside Patron, a bomb-sniffing dog.
State Emergency Service of Ukraine
A Ukrainian pyrotechnic squad works alongside Patron, a bomb-sniffing dog.

A tiny but mighty Jack Russell terrier has been saving lives in Ukraine and gaining fans around the world.

Two-year-old Patron works with State Emergency Service rescuers in the northern city of Chernihiv, where he sniffs out Russian bombs (in addition to warming laps, nipping sleeves and generally being a good boy).

In fact, he has helped neutralize nearly 90 explosive devices since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion, Ukrainian officials said last month.

"One day, Patron's story will be turned into a film, but for now, he is faithfully performing his professional duties," tweeted Ukraine's Center for Strategic Communications.

It also shared video clips of Patron on duty, wearing a protective vest and walking around with his snout to the dirt.

Patron has been featured on the SES Facebook page, which shared a different montage of him earlier this month riding in the car, sniffing devices laid out on the ground and posing for photos with rescue personnel.

He also appeared in a series of photos the agency posted on Tuesday, in which he can be seen examining debris in a field, posing on an armored vehicle and being held by a young child.

The post referred to him as "our pyrotechnic dog Patron, who is loved by both adults and children," according to an English translation.

Patron has indeed won hearts and admirers throughout Ukraine and beyond.

Earlier this week, the SES shared an album of more than a dozen illustrations of Patron submitted from fans across the country, writing that "our brave baby Patron has inspired an incredible number of gifted artists."

"It motivates not to give up no matter how hard it is, to keep the bar high and to fight with new strength, knowing how many people are still waiting for help and how many people believe in us," it wrote, according to Facebook's English translation. "Our Patron doesn't let his feet down either and sends his gratitude to everyone."

The paintings, drawings and cartoons depict a heroic Patron in his trademark vest. One shows him urinating on a Russian rocket, in another he's towering benevolently over a city skyline.

One particularly poignant drawing offers a split-screen view: Half is Patron at work in front of a charred high-rise, while the other half shows him standing in a grassy park next to a ball — a game of fetch that's been put on hold.

Other admirers have shared sketches and even knit plushies of Patron on social media.

Dogs have a long history of locating land mines, unexploded bombs and improvised devices during conflicts around the world, thanks to their keen sense of smell.

According to DailyPaws.com, the powerful nose, small size and high intelligence of Jack Russell terriers make Patron a prime candidate for the job.

This story originally appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.
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