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Special Project

Special Project
From the 15th Annual Shorty Awards

War Dog Reunites With His Best Friend

Finalist in Long Form Video


Reporting for Duty is a YouTube series born out of the success of AARP’s veteran library that garners over ten million organic views per year. The series is a response to this viewership, showcasing veteran and hero stories that strongly resonate with AARP’s community of veterans, active duty and military families.The stories range from veterans reflecting on their heroism, to creating innovative businesses, to finding ways to serve their society after their service. The core message is that their values as service members continue to motivate their actions and ways of life.

Veteran storytelling requires diverse perspectives – including veteran women, veterans with disabilities, and animal veterans! The goal of this episode was to showcase the service of military dogs, who are an incredible support system to our soldiers in uniform. They undergo rigorous training. They are taught to detect explosives, to sniff out drugs and to assist soldiers and police officers in some of the most dangerous situations. In this episode, we focus on the incredible bond between Staff Sgt. Angela Lowe and Szultan the military dog. The video also documents the work of MissionK9 Rescue, an organization dedicated to rehoming military working dogs.

Strategy and Execution

This episode launched in March in alignment with National Disability Awareness Month and Women’s History Month. This video also was a direct companion piece to the AARP article ‘Retired Military Dog Reunites With Soldier’

The details of the story made this a more involved shoot. When retired Sergeant Lowe received news that her beloved partner Szultan would be retired from the military, she responded to the handler saying that she was happy to adopt him. But, she only had two weeks to retrieve him from distant Charleston, South Carolina. She contacted Mission K9 Rescue to help her reunite with Szultan. The filming schedule had to align with these time constraints, with the schedules of Kristen Mauer (the co-founder of Mission K9), Lowe, and the transportation window of the dog. We had an incredible crew and team that was able to pull off the coordination and logistics of this shoot. Szultan's journey to retirement was the story arc and provided a great emotional payoff for the viewer.

Aside from the production challenges, an editorial challenge was communicating the story of the military dogs without being able to get these characters to ‘speak for themselves.’ This is where the scripting and depiction of the animals turned into a more nuanced version of a typical Reporting for Duty episode. We included as many photographs, images and footage of veterans interacting with their service dogs as possible, showing their emotional and deep bond that develops after serving on the frontlines together. 


Two months after the episode's premiere, the video garnered over half a million views. In the last 365 days, this video has received over 1.5 million views. It remains in the top 5 best performing videos every month on the channel. Thousands have subscribed to our channel after watching the piece. This side to veteran storytelling is very "of the YouTube platform" where we knew dog and cat videos reign supreme. 



Video for War Dog Reunites With His Best Friend

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