When news broke of its arrival with the crack Israeli rescue team to Ghana, many people looked forward to an extraordinary dog; but as it turned out, Maxi-the Israeli –trained rescue dog that was deployed at the scene of the tragic Melcom building disaster, looked completely ordinary.
Some people scoffed at its frizzle-furred look, while others jokingly described it as looking too ordinary that people from Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region or the Akyem people of the Eastern Region, on a good day, would not have had any qualms using it for a sumptuous grill.
But despite its unassuming look, Maxi is indeed not an ordinary dog.
The black and tan coloured dog is from a breed of dogs called the Jagged Terrier.
This breed is noted for its extreme intelligence in hunting and locating game both on the surface and underground.
But there is more to seven-year old Maxi; he has received highly classified military training from the Israeli Army and that has sharpened its natural instincts to optimal levels.
NEWSONE learns that Maxi has embarked on several rescue missions for almost seven years now (since he was a few months old puppy), including missions in Haiti during the devastating 2010 earthquake that hit that country.
According to the deputy Israeli Ambassador to Ghana, Eyal Lampert, Maxi rescued countless survivors in Haiti.
Maxi was airlifted to Ghana along with eight other Israeli Army rescue regiment on Wednesday November 8, 2012, in the wake of the devastating collapse of the five-story Melcom Shopping Mall that has claimed several lives and injured a lot more others.
Before the arrival of the Israeli team with their superior resources, Ghanaian rescuers were groping in the dark on how to locate survivors who were still trapped under the rubble.
Maxi’s arrival greatly solved this problem. With its small size and extensive training, it crawled through the small spaces of the collapsed building and worked itself deep into all the inaccessible places where workers of Melcom and shoppers were trapped under the rubbles.
Maxi located these survivors by their breath and with the help of equipment attached to it, it sent off signals to its handler who alerts the rescue team to prepare for an extraction of the trapped victims.
Since its arrival, NewsOne has learnt that Maxi has been very useful in saving several lives trapped under the rubble of the collapsed building, including women and children.
It worked almost non-stop through day and night since its arrived last Thursday.
It only took intermittent 20-minute breaks to catch its breath, rest and to eat, after which it jumped right back into the site of the devastation in an effort to locate survivors before it was too late.
Maxi is undoubtedly a top dog when it comes to rescue missions.
Its military and rescue trainings are first class, his handler (name withheld for security reasons) told NewsOne.
He would not release any detail of the training because he claims they are highly classified. The deputy Israeli Ambassador confirms this too.
What is clear is that Maxi’s training requires it to live a very regimented life.
Every day the world-acclaimed rescue dog has to go through a strict exercise routine to keep it in shape. It is feed top-of-the-range dog food.
Maxi is restricted from enjoying any sexual pleasure, his handler told NewsOne. Even though he is not castrated, Maxi is not allowed to mate with any female dog.
Perhaps this celibate training might have helped in sharpening the alertness of a dog, whose seven-year life has always been under extremely risky situations.