Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday presented Myhailo Iliev and his Jack Russell terrier mix, Patron, with medals “For Dedicated Service” after the pup sniffed out over 150 bombs and other munitions while working with Ukrainian bomb disposal teams. Patron and Iliev have been hard at work in the Chernihiv area north of Kyiv, with some estimates crediting them with safely removing over 250 munitions from the ground, helping to keep soldiers and civilians safe.
The state awards were presented in a ceremony led by the president, who praised both of them in a later statement to the press.
“Today, I want to award those Ukrainian heroes who are already clearing our land of mines. And together with our heroes, a wonderful little sapper — Patron — who helps not only to neutralize explosives but also to teach our children the necessary safety rules in areas where there is a mine threat,” he said.
Patron wagged his tail and barked at Zelensky as he announced the award for the terrier and the audience laughed and cooed at the adorable sight.
Not only that, but Patron got to meet the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, who made a surprise visit to Ukraine on the same day and got to watch the ceremony and even come face-to-face with the celebrity dog. Trudeau, along with Zelensky, searched his pockets for a treat for Patron, but came up empty.
“[Patron] was extremely happy to meet a true friend of Ukraine, even though Mr. Trudeau did not find a piece of Patron’s favorite cheese,” a Telegram post published by the State Emergency Services of Ukraine reads.
Patron recently became universally beloved by humans after people caught word of his work in Ukraine around late April. He was trained to sniff out undetonated bombs and land mines, signaling his comrades when he finds something using his incredible sense of smell, and now spends much of his downtime modeling for photos for his Instagram page, which now has over 227,000 followers.
The name “patron” means “bullet” in Ukrainian, which seems appropriate considering how fast he works.
The terrier now has fans all over the world, and the medal ceremony comes as a rare bright spot in a terrible war that has dragged on for months now after Russian forces invaded. Vladimir Putin’s army reportedly lost ground to Ukrainians over the weekend—not the ideal run up to Russia’s “Victory Day” holiday, which celebrates the Soviet Union’s triumph over Nazi Germany.
Putin gave some sort of speech or something today, but who cares while there’s an adorable dog getting a medal?