5 min read

Very Good Boy Risks His Life To Protect His Human During Battle

“We felt like Mali was our guardian angel.”

There is no question that Mali is a very good boy. In fact, he is now officially one of the best.

On Friday, the 8-year-old Belgian Malinois received the PDSA Dickin Medal — the highest honor for a dog in the British military (and the canine equivalent of the Victoria Cross, the highest award in the United Kingdom honors system).

Mali’s special skills, such as sniffing out explosives and detecting insurgents, have helped protect his handlers in difficult situations and even saved lives. The remarkable dog also has nerves of steel.

Mali the dog on a plane to Afghanistan
PDSA

His talents came in especially handy in 2012, when Mali was deployed to Afghanistan as part of a sensitive military operation. “Mali was sent through direct fire on two separate occasions to conduct searches for explosives,” a press release from The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) stated. “He also indicated the presence of insurgents numerous times, giving the assault force vital milliseconds to engage the enemy in close quarter combat.”

Mali the dog at Defence Animal Centre and with Cpl Dan Hatley
PDSA

Whether it was being hoisted up and down buildings or sustaining three grenade blasts at close range, nothing could distract Mali from his mission and his people. His courage helped inspire confidence in his fellow soldiers, and by dawn they had successfully completed the operation.

But Mali wasn’t doing so well ...

Mali injured after mission in Kabul
PDSA

I realized Mali was injured. Blood was running down his legs, I knew he needed help,” Mali’s handler during the mission, whose identity has not been released for security reasons, said in a video. “We felt like Mali was our guardian angel.”

The dog was quickly given emergency treatment and returned to the UK, where he eventually recovered from his injuries.

Though the pup’s days of active service are now behind him, Mali continues to work in his retirement with current handler Corporal Daniel Hatley to help train new military working dog handlers.

Though Mali is always eager to serve, Hatley makes sure the veteran pup has plenty of playtime during the day. For his part in “securing a key enemy stronghold,” the press release explains, the brave dog joins the company of 31 dogs, 32 World War II messenger pigeons, four horses and one cat who have also received the award.

When he received his special bronze medallion with the words “For Gallantry” emblazoned on it, the courageous pup was not all too keen on actually wearing it…

… though he did eventually put it on.

Mali wearing the PDSA Dickin Medal
PDSA

For Mali, the medal is nice, but he’s really just in it for the pets.

Daniel Hatley and Mali pose with PDSA medal
PDSA

Good boy, Mali.