SEAL Team’s biggest star is a three-year-old Belgian Malinois named Dita who plays an explosives detection dog on the show. Dita’s handler, Justin Melnick, trained her for a real-life search and rescue in a small town in Indiana. Eventually, Melnick switched her focus to be on narcotics detection.
“Everything we do on the show is for real, and it’s all training for her,” Melnick says.
The CBS military drama follows the lives of the most elite unit of Navy SEALs. The team takes on extremely dangerous and high-stakes missions defending our country. Jason Hayes (David Boreanaz) leads the highly-skilled team including Ray Perry (Neil Brown Jr.), Sonny Quinn (AJ Buckley), and Clay Spenser (Max Thieriot). In the face of extreme danger, the team must work together to display their fearless dedication against overwhelming odds.
In an interview with Variety, trainer Justin Melnick goes into detail about his experiences training Dita for the show.
“My roommate had gotten Dita — he’s a K9 officer for a larger city department — and he ended up not being able to keep her,” Justin explained. “Our narcotics K9 at the time retired because he had been in service for eight or nine years, and we work on a very limited budget in the small town — we have five full-time officers and 24 reserves, part-time officers. So I took Dita and started training her.”
SEAL Team Actor Never Had a Dog
Melnick never had a dog growing up which makes his attachment to Dita that much more special. He admits his emotions run high working with Dita on the show.
“I wish I could take credit for everything she does,” said Justin. “I’ve never had a dog in my life, but I work well with Dita. Dog trainers have this saying that “Your emotion runs up and down the leash,” so she can feel what you’re thinking just conducted through the leash. It’s just a bond. I’ve never had anything in my life like it.”
The SEAL Team actor gushed about life on the show with Dita saying, “After the last nine months of my life, I cannot imagine doing anything else ever again. I’m head over heels in love with absolutely all of it, from the creative process of production to post. It’s so much fun. You get to run around and play dress-up every day. Yeah, the cost in the real world is very great, but if we can bring the story of what these guys go through at home and at work — it’s such a specialized unit that most people don’t really understand it. To most people Navy SEALs don’t cry, they don’t bleed, but they’re human, and they pay the greatest sacrifice. It’s been 17 years. It’s been a long war.”