♪ I try to be professional ♪ ♪ Stay... ♪ MICHAEL: In June, 2003, I decided to join the United States Army.
And I got shipped off to my unit in Iraq and I was afraid.
One soldier in particular, pointed that fear out and told me that if I didn'’t lose that fear, I could either get killed or get someone else killed.
If we work out some harmonies together.
MICHAEL: On that part... TANYA: Mm-hmm MICHAEL: I think we can expound...
But that soldier also led me to a place in the palace that we were staying at in Baghdad to play on Saddam Hussein'’s piano, and I remember him saying this to me like it was yesterday.
"Whenever you wanna find home, come down here and find it with music on this piano."
♪ I didn'’t know how to play it, and I remember one fingering it, [Michael vocalizing] and before I- I knew it, I was able to play with two hands and...
But I still was lacking the emotional connection it took to become a songwriter.
Here it is, we were working on it the other day.
MICHAEL: It wasn'’t until that soldier that showed me where that piano was, was killed to where I wrote my first song, and it brought so much healing, it brought so much comfort that I would then become a songwriter in the war for memorials.
♪ Let me scoop you up in my two dark ♪ TANYA: Yeah.
♪ MICHAEL: As a songwriter, we'’re always looking for good material to create a great song.
MICHAEL: And I think we have found the inspiration.
♪ TANYA: Today we'’re gonna go and meet a guy who'’s doing some incredible things with retired veterans.
MICHAEL: And what he doesn'’t know is that we'’re gonna take his story and turn it into a great song.
Thank you so much, not only for your service, but thank you for the way you care and love.
[audience cheering] I'’m Michael.
TANYA: And I'’m Tanya.
MICHAEL: We are The War & Treaty and Jason Johnson is the inspiration for our American Anthem.
♪ ♪ JASON: I love dogs because they love their human counterparts, their handler, their owner far more than they love themselves.
[dog panting] [footsteps] Come on.
I gained a love and appreciation for having a companion growing up having a dog by my side.
Come on, up, up!
[footsteps] I started in the Army right after I graduated high school in 1993 and while in the Army, I served as a military police officer.
And I did five years there and I- I wanted to get out, uh, and- and do more.
You know I wanted to be a police SWAT K-9 handler.
And I put in my time for a number of years working with the K-9 unit '’til it was my turn, '’til I was given the opportunity to become a police K-9 handler.
Oh, good girl, Yoube.
Come here, that'’s it.
I was a lead instructor at the National K-9 Academy and we instructed dogs for the FBI, the CIA, U.S.
Marshals, Homeland Security, and there I helped train over 2,000, police K-9s, and military working dogs.
And my dog, Flash, and I were named the Law Enforcement Dog of the Year with the American Humane.
But when it came time for Flash to retire, I was given a call to see if I could take her back in.
Flash no longer had a home and she had lyme disease, and she was having trouble with her backend, and she was experiencing some medical issues.
And she wasn'’t getting help with the medical care she needed in retirement.
And I thought, "If this has happened to Flash, "this is happening to all the dogs "that I'’m training right now, and I wanna be there for '’em when they retire."
Go lay down, good girl.
I owe it to these heroes to make sure that I'’m dedicating my life and my career to ensuring that they'’re being taken care of the way they should be.
♪ MICHAEL: So we heard about this guy.
TANYA: Mm-hmm And he has a pretty incredible story, and he just happens to be a veteran, and because we are always looking to be inspired... TANYA: Yeah.
MICHAEL: And always looking for material to create a great song.
Today, we'’re gonna go meet him in person... TANYA: Yes.
MICHAEL: To see what he does.
JASON: I'’m Jason, this is K-9 Yoube.
TANYA: Hi Jason, I'’m Tanya.
JASON: Very nice to meet you.
TANYA: Hi, Yoube.
MICHAEL: Jason, man, pleasure to meet you, I'’m Michael.
I'’m gonna let you know now, I'’m just not a huge fan of dogs.
I got a little thing, but I'’m happy to be here.
JASON: Well, fair enough.
Maybe by the end of today we'’ll help you get over that fear and... MICHAEL: Yeah.
JASON: Let you meet some of our dogs, some of our heroes.
TANYA: Awesome, that'’s great.
JASON: All right, let'’s go inside.
MICHAEL: Shall we go?
JASON: Easy, easy, easy.
Get ready, your hair is good, your makeup'’s good.
[Michael laughs] MICHAEL: So brother, I- I know that we have something in common here, and- and- and more particularly, we both served.
JASON: Yes, sir.
MICHAEL: But I was in Iraq.
JASON: Yeah, I was a- a dog handler there in 2008 and 2009, and we protected the United States Ambassador, and we did high level meetings.
Everybody from the United States President on down.
You know, these dogs are out there putting their lives on the line for us.
They'’re out their risking their lives without even thinking about it twice, you know?
JASON: And we wanna make sure that they have a place to come home to after their service.
JASON: A family to live with.
JASON: And most importantly, their medical care taken care of.
JASON: When they'’re working, the laws are there to protect '’em, but the minute they retire, they'’re not getting any services for their retirement.
That kinda gave me the idea that, hey, there'’s a need out there for these heroes, and that'’s when Flash and I started Project K-9 Hero in 2016.
♪ Project K-9 Hero is a national nonprofit that helps retired police K-9s, and military working dogs with medical care, food, death benefit assistance, rehabilitation, re-homing and adoption.
♪ Right now we have 166 dogs in the program.
JASON: And, um, we got pretty much three different types of dogs that come through the program.
JASON: You know we find that a high number stay with their handler, which is great, you know.
JASON: The police officer, the military veteran.
Some of them are still on active duty... MICHAEL: Ah-hah JASON: Get to keep their dogs.
And those ones we'’re helping just pay the medical care.
W- you know, whether they got surgeries, they got medicines they need.
Whatever they need, we'’re there to help them with that.
There'’s another smaller percent that don'’t have a home to go to, like Rosso.
Military working dog, Rosso, was gonna be put down right when he retired from the Air Force.
He bit a lotta trainers.
There was no option for adoption.
The government stated that.
The kennel master luckily reached out to our organization, asked if we could help and when I heard this hero'’s career, he has a Air Force Commendation Medal.
We 100% agreed to take him in.
♪ A huge step for our program was being able to purchase this property here in Tennessee.
We knew we needed a place where dogs could roam, where we could get out and exercise '’em, take '’em on walks.
We have a full-time, licensed veterinarian technician on our staff here seven days a week caring for these animals at the highest level possible.
They get the best of everything.
♪ This place right here I believe is special.
What we'’re looking to build here with our rehabilitation, re-homing center.
We'’re gonna have a little memorial pond.
On the walking trails there'’s gonna be stones along the way that identifies every K-9 hero starting from our very first hero, Flash, all the way up to the last one.
And each time each one passes away, we'’re gonna add another stone.
And before this is all over and while I'’m still here on Earth, I hope to see hundreds and thousands of stones out there, memorializing these K-9 heroes for their service, and for everything they'’ve done for our country.
♪ TANYA: Our son, he loves dogs so if we, you know say for instance someone had a little boy that'’s 11 years old and wanted to adopt a dog, what is the process of doing something like that?
JASON: So we put all of our adoptions when they become available on our social media and we look for the best scenarios for that.
The best families.
We were recently working with military working dog, Reno.
Served the United States Army.
Reno is a excellent adoption candidate.
He got retired early because of medical.
JASON: Had some skin issues.
No behavioral issues.
We'’re working with a Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq and kinda felt that having a- a military working dog would be better than going to get a puppy.
Someone he could relate to.
Someone he could share his issues with.
♪ We'’re gonna come down here and meet K-9 Klara.
She'’s another program member we have with Project K-9 Hero, but I'’m gonna let John explain a little bit about Klara'’s background, how has she served our country, and how she became a member of our program.
JOHN: Sure, so Miss Klara was out in Oklahoma with the Sheriff'’s Department.
One of the deputy sheriffs.
Um, he was in a situation where financially he couldn'’t handle having another dog with a new baby in the house so he called and asked for Project K-9 Hero'’s help.
Jason called me, and, you know, it took me about 12 hours to get to Oklahoma... MICHAEL: Wow.
JOHN: And I got immediately on the road.
We couldn'’t see her get put down or put in a situation that would'’ve been bad for her.
TANYA: Mm-hmm MICHAEL: Here it is that they fought for the war, to end the war.
All this time they'’ve done their job, and now they come home and it'’s like, "Good job, buddy, you'’re gonna go to sleep now."
MICHAEL: Like, man, can you imagine if that is what we did to all of the homeless veterans?
[Tanya whispers] Who was your first dog?
MICHAEL: Yeah, Flash.
JASON: And she went on to be the Law Enforcement Dog of the Year in America.
MICHAEL: That'’s right.
JASON: And it doesn'’t matter how many bombs you find and lives you save, there'’s just no programs out there other than nonprofits like ours to help '’em.
MICHAEL: When Jason first started talking about Flash, and then every dog that he talked about, I- I could see the tears kinda building up in his eyes, but I can also see how he soldiered himself up.
Don'’t do that."
You know and that kinda thing.
JASON: I think there'’s a lot of similarities between a veteran who served in our military and a veteran who was a military working dog or a police K-9.
MICHAEL: Now, I see she'’s real focused on that ball.
And now if that ball- JOHN: Yes.
MICHAEL: Rolls over by my foot, is she gonna be confused at it?
[Tanya laughs] JOHN: No, she will not.
MICHAEL: All right.
JASON: Go ahead and pick it up- TANYA: You should pick it up.
JASON: Go ahead and pick it up and toss it to her.
MICHAEL: Well, Tanya- TANYA: Come on.
MICHAEL: Go ahead and pick it up.
TANYA: Let'’s pick it up together.
There you go.
MICHAEL: Are you ready?
JOHN: Tell her- tell her to s- sit.
JOHN: And then just tell her, "Good girl!"
MICHAEL: Good girl!
TANYA: Good girl!
TANYA: I really applaud what you'’re doing and it touches my heart because I see it in contrast to when I met Michael.
He was a homeless veteran.
You know, just thrown to- away.
Didn'’t know anything about getting his benefits, the system.
JASON: Just like Yoube.
TANYA: Just like Yoube.
TANYA: And to have someone like you that'’s a champion for these animals, I feel the same way with veterans.
MICHAEL: And I think that what you'’ve done is you'’ve opened up a portal to our humanity that it ables- enables us to see these military working dogs as what they are.
True American heroes.
And so I think that this is our plea, you know, to not just our government, but to our men and women in our country to see just how you are handling other heroes that we have overlooked.
TANYA: Thank you so much for... JASON: Thank you guys so much.
TANYA: Everything you do.
JASON: Thank you for believing in our mission and believing in me.
♪ MICHAEL: We'’re actually working on our next record.
We'’ve got some music we'’re working on and wanted to go ahead and give you an invitation to come check it out in the studio with a couple of your friends tomorrow if it'’s, will work for you.
JASON: That'’d be amazing.
TANYA: That'’d be great.
[laughs] JASON: Count on it, we'’ll be there.
And I wanted to give you guys something as well.
This is one of our Project K-9 Hero challenge coins.
I have one for each of you.
TANYA: Cool, thank you.
JASON: A gift from me to you personally.
TANYA: Thank you.
JASON: For all that you guys do for our veteran community as well.
TANYA: Thank you so, so much.
MICHAEL: I had so much anxiety about this day, but you- you'’ve made it happen for me.
[Tanya laughs] JASON: Thank you so much.
MICHAEL: And I just wanna say... JASON: Yeah?
TANYA: Oh, look at that.
MICHAEL: Say goodbye.
JASON: There it is, see.
TANYA: You have done a miracle here.
JASON: I told you we would over- TANYA: Thank you.
JASON: We would help you overcome it.
TANYA: Thank you.
JASON: Thank you so much, guys and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.
♪ TANYA: You did it!
[both laughing] ♪ MICHAEL: I'’m super excited to be in here, and to write this song today, but, um, I think the first thing is we haven'’t had a chance to kinda like debrief.
MICHAEL: And really think about what we took in yesterday, and I just wanted to ask you, you know, what- what stood out for you?
TANYA: Just the passion... MICHAEL: Right.
TANYA: That Jason has... MICHAEL: Right.
TANYA: For these dogs.
I mean, it was just incredible and really just learning... MICHAEL: Mm-hmm TANYA: The things I did not know.
MICHAEL: When we met Jason yesterday, for me, it was like meeting myself all over again.
He really touched me.
Um, seeing his connection with something that I just looked at as just a pet or a dog, but really I see it differently now.
I think that some key points that we wanna really drill in for me would be... TANYA: Mm-hmm MICHAEL: Humanizing the situation and really looking at the opportunity we have to take this dog from just being a dog TANYA: Yeah.
MICHAEL: To being our hero.
♪ More than an animal ♪ TANYA: Yes, mm-hmm ♪ More ♪ Okay, if he'’s more than an animal.
TANYA: Mm-hmm I mean, like you can go into the- about it being more than- than a- than a pet.
♪ Hootchie poochie ♪ TANYA: No.
[laughs] ♪ Poochie poochie poo ♪ [laughs] I don'’t like that.
I don'’t- that- That is bad.
That is, that is... MICHAEL: That'’s what I was feeling.
♪ More than an animal, more than a pet ♪ TANYA: Yeah, ♪ I like that.
MICHAEL: Major keys for me, remind me of a reverence.
You know, um, I think like most hymns that we know are written in major keys.
And so for me, I wanted to keep and maintain the reverence of the story.
The- the reverence and the respect that Jason had for his partners that he deals with on a day-to-day basis.
TANYA: Do you wanna... ♪ make it personal on the second verse?
Maybe one of his dogs?
MICHAEL: I think we should.
MICHAEL: And I- I know the- the- the right dog to put in there.
TANYA: The first one.
MICHAEL: Yeah, Flash.
TANYA: Mm-hmm TANYA: I think when y- when you talk about developing the song or developing a song, you really wanna take people on a journey, the emotional journey.
And like the inception of it being a puppy, and then growing up.
And then once this puppy grows up, it has some purpose.
It has a purpose.
And that purpose is to go serve.
♪ ♪ We say good job soldier ♪ MICHAEL: Yeah.
♪ And feed him snacks and tell him to heel ♪ ♪ Oh, tell him to heel ♪ MICHAEL: Uh-huh Heel is a command.
Heel is to s- TANYAH: Yes.
MICHAEL: All right, now sit, stay still.
Heel, calm down.
TANYA: To heel.
MICHAEL: But, you know, I'’m thinking of, I'’m playing on words to tell him to heal, H-E-A-L. TANYA: Yeah.
♪ And when they'’re done with war ♪ ♪ We send them home just to be killed ♪ ♪ More than an animal ♪ MICHAEL: He served, you know, And I don'’t wanna get so emotional about this, TANYA: Yeah MICHAEL: But, you know, um, he has no choice in this matter, you know?
And that was important to me, and it'’s important to put that in the song.
♪ On all fours ♪ Yeah, I think- I think he'’s gonna like it.
♪ You think?
♪ [sighs] I think we got something.
MICHAEL: I think we got it.
I hope Jason feels heard because so many of us don'’t.
Yay to me!
TANYA: Yays to you.
Ha, you gonna leave me hanging?
MICHAEL: Yeah, I did the work.
TANYA: [laughs] Oh, God.
♪ [indistinct chatter] ♪ We'’re actually backstage.
People are piling in.
MICHAEL: We can hear '’em, it'’s- TANYA: And we are so excited.
[Michael laughs] We just- we just hope that he loves the song.
MICHAEL: I think he will.
TANYA: Hello everyone!
[audience applauding] Hi!
Thank you so much for coming.
MICHAEL: We'’re just really happy to be here, and Jason, we were moved by your story.
Tanya and I, we- we were thinking like what can we do to show you how moved we were?
What we'’ve decided to do is to take care of K-9 Reno'’s food and medical for an entire year.
TANYA: [laughs] For an entire year.
[audience applauding] MICHAEL: But that'’s not all.
TANYA: Yeah MICHAEL: Tanya and I took the time to sit down and organize some facts here, and come up with a song for you.
Thank you so much, not only for your service, but thank you for the way you care and love.
This song is called "Soldier On All Fours."
♪ ♪ Just some young puppy ♪ ♪ Still wet behind her ears ♪ ♪ ♪ In her eyes a ton of ambition beyond her years ♪ ♪ ♪ We don'’t think about ♪ [Tanya vocalizing] ♪ The ways she'’d risk it all ♪ ♪ Oh, she'’d risk it all ♪ ♪ And that young puppy ♪ ♪ Would grow up and answer duty'’s call ♪ ♪ More than an animal ♪ ♪ More than a pet ♪ ♪ We knew she'’d be more from the first day we met ♪ ♪ More than a best friend ♪ ♪ A buddy could ask for ♪ ♪ She'’s a soldier ♪ [Michael vocalizing] ♪ On all fours ♪ ♪ MICHAEL: Uh!
♪ ♪ We see old Flash racing across the battlefield ♪ ♪ Oh yeah ♪ ♪ ♪ Obeyin'’ orders upholding freedom'’s shield ♪ ♪ Oh yeah ♪ ♪ ♪ We say good job soldier ♪ ♪ And we feed him snacks and tell him to heel ♪ ♪ Oh yes we do ♪ ♪ ♪ And when they'’re done with war ♪ ♪ We send them home just to be killed ♪ ♪ Oh ♪ ♪ More than an animal ♪ ♪ More than a pet ♪ ♪ We knew he'’d be more from the first day we met ♪ ♪ More than a best friend ♪ ♪ A buddy could ask for ♪ ♪ He'’s a soldier ♪ [Michael vocalizing] ♪ On all fours ♪ ♪ ♪ Give them the honor that they are overdue ♪ ♪ So overdue ♪ ♪ ♪ Fight for them like they fought for you ♪ ♪ Show them the love we won'’t throw '’em away ♪ [Tanya vocalizing] ♪ More than an animal ♪ ♪ More than a pet ♪ ♪ We knew they'’d be more from the first day we met ♪ ♪ More than a best friend ♪ ♪ A buddy could ask for ♪ ♪ They are soldiers ♪ ♪ ♪ Yeah, they are soldiers ♪ ♪ They are soldiers ♪ ♪ You'’re right Jason they are definitely soldiers ♪ [Tanya vocalizing] ♪ They are soldiers ♪ ♪ ♪ On all fours ♪ [Michael and Tanya vocalizing] ♪ On all fours ♪ [audience applauding] TANYA: Thank you.
JASON: Thank you so much.
[Tanya and Michael laughing] We loved it, I love it so much.
Brilliant [indistinct] bro.
It won'’t be the last time we all get together and hang out.
TANYA: It won'’t be the last time.
MICHAEL: I'’m forever changed from this experience.
TANYA: Me too.
MICHAEL: I really hope that we get a chance to do it again and... TANYA: Yes MICHAEL: Make someone else our American Anthem.
♪ On all fours ♪ [static] [chiming] ♪