CINCINNATI, Ohio — The dog has always been known as man’s best friend, and for Mike Monahan, that four-legged best friend ended up being a dog named Chico.
“It’s been 51 years since I left Chico behind,” Monahan said.
He said goodbye to Chico when he finished his tour of duty during the Vietnam War. They were a patrol team together, with Chico trained to alert the team to tripwires.
He actually saved Monahan's life.
“It was really a committed relationship between Chico and I for a whole year, and on top of that, he saved my life, and there’s a lot of guilt leaving him behind,” Monahan said.
Chico received a steak for his actions in saving Mike’s life. After Monahan left the war, Chico was one of more than 4,000 other military working dogs who were either euthanized or abandoned at the end of the war.
For more than a year, Mike has been writing a book from Chico’s perspective, titled "Chico’s Promise." It covers his life from being given away to the U.S. Army by his original owner in South Dakota to the day Mike said goodbye in the kennel in Vietnam.
Mike read that portion of the book during our discussion.
“Then one day, Mike entered my kennel, took a knee, put his arms around me and said, 'I love you, I love you boy. I’m sorry I can’t do anything about this, I love you boy take care of yourself. Goodbye Chico. Thanks for saving my life, I promise to never forget about what a hero you are in my eyes.' Then I heard a voice say, 'Monahan, time to go. Jeep’s waiting,' and just like that it was over, once again I was all alone. Abandoned.”
“Writing the book in Chico’s voice brings a whole other perspective for me from the guilt end,” Monahan said.
Now he’s hoping to honor Chico even further than just with the book: He wants to save dogs.
“I want to be able to raise money, and then what we’ll do is team up with selected no-kill shelters,” Monahan said. “Pay adoption fees and perhaps other fees.”
He has a lofty fundraising goal in mind: He said he wants to save 50,000 dogs.
"A thousand per year for every year since they put him down would be appropriate,“ said Monahan. “If I say I’m going to save ten dogs, who cares? But if I say 50,000 dogs, I think I can get the world behind me. I want to save dogs in his memory, I want him to be a national hero he deserves it.”
Those interested in contributing to Mike’s fundraiser and finding out more about Chico and Mike’s story can do so here.
This story was originally published by Craig McKee at WCPO.