Conan, the Belgian Malinois dog injured during the raid that resulted in the demise of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, received recognition at the White House on November 25th. However, much of the conversation surrounding the ceremony revolves around contradictory reports concerning the gender of the dog. President Donald Trump, in his tweet about Conan, identified the canine as “he,” while Conan was named after the renowned comedian Conan O’Brien.
During the president’s conversation with reporters, Conan, who stood beside him, was consistently addressed as a male. Interestingly, a White House official initially referred to Conan as a female, but their statement was later contradicted by another White House official. ABC News claimed that the dog was female, but the Pentagon insisted that Conan was, in fact, male.
After analyzing the image shared by the White House, a previous military K9 handler determined that Conan is unmistakably a male canine. Conan played a crucial role in the operation that resulted in the demise of al-Baghdadi. American soldiers confronted the ISIS leader inside a tunnel, where he triggered an explosive vest, causing his own death along with that of two children he had accompanied. During the mission, Conan sustained injuries from live electrical wires. However, it is reported that Conan made a swift recovery and has already resumed active duty.
Conan was honored with a custom-made certificate and medal, specifically designed for the dog. Due to regulations set by the Department of Defense, the President is prohibited from bestowing medals intended for humans upon animals. However, numerous voices have advocated for Conan to be granted the Purple Heart, acknowledging the injuries sustained during the raid. The Purple Heart is typically awarded to United States soldiers who are wounded while bravely serving their nation.
During the raid, Conan was a member of Delta Forces. This mission marked Conan’s 50th participation in such operations. The Belgian Malinois, also known as a Mal, resembles German Shepherds in appearance but is smaller and has shorter hair. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), it holds the 43rd position in popularity out of 191 breeds. These dogs typically live for 14 to 16 years.
According to the AKC, Malinois have a temperament described as “confident, intelligent, and industrious”. They exhibit high levels of obedience and possess remarkable intelligence. This breed is highly sought after in military and law enforcement circles. When asked about the possibility of getting a Malinois for her son, First Lady Melania Trump responded with laughter and a firm “No”. Conan O’Brien, upon learning that the dog was named after him, humorously tweeted, “That dog is undoubtedly the superior ‘Conan’.”
Conan’s handlers were absent during the dog’s appearance with the president due to the undisclosed identities of the human soldiers involved in the mission. In his remarks, the president expressed that having this exceptional dog at the White House is a tribute to the commendable work carried out by our armed forces. He recognized Conan as a true hero and expressed his delight in being able to extend a warm welcome to the dog.