U.S.

January 30, 2014

Processing four legged deployers

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Story and Photos by Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu
Dog_pict1
Staff Sgt. Sean McKenna, 355th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog handler, bonds with Mushe, 355th SFS MWD, during obedience training here Jan. 23. Due to their upcoming joint deployment, McKenna and Mushe are training together to strengthen the trust in their relationship.

Receiving orders is only the first step to actually putting boots on the ground.

When Airmen get tasked to deploy there are several things that must be squared away to include a psychical, training records and mental health screening.

“Mushe will get a full physical from the Doc which will include checking his vitals, gums, teeth, eyes, range of mobility and do blood work to check for any diseases or abnormalities,” said Staff Sgt. Sean McKenna, 355th Security Forces Military Working Dog handler.

Mushe is a 4 year old Belgian Malinois. He has been on two deployments and is a dual purpose dog.

They will make sure he is current on all shots, and if anything needs to be addressed before departure said McKenna.

Sergeant McKenna and Mushe pose for a photo during obedience training. Mushe is trained as a patrol dog as well as an explosives detective dog and will apply both at his deployed location.

Alongside the medical clearances the pair will change up their workouts and receive additional mobility training to prepare for the deployment location.

“Mushe and I are working on rucking more as well as bonding since we will be working side by side at all times,” McKenna said. “We will be working on detection and discipline, as well as the small stuff, like getting used to each other’s pace.”

McKenna and Mushe will also attend mandated readiness at the Regional Training Center at Creech Air Base, Nev., together.

Sergeant McKenna and Mushe practice commands during obedience training. McKenna is preparing for his first deployment as a MWD handler and Mushe is preparing for his third deployment.

“We will receive hardcore psychically demanding training exercises for 30 days that are up-to-date with what is going on in our deployed location,” McKenna said. “We will be rucking eight miles at a time and experience live fire scenarios and explosions equivalent to real life ones in the desert, all to make sure we are prepared.”

Before deployments, Airmen are encourage to take leave and visit family, to help get in the right mind set, the same is true for military working dogs.

“Before we leave for this deployment we will take some time off to get our thoughts together,” McKenna said. “We need to calm our minds so we are in the right mindset to complete the mission once we arrive.”

McKenna’s original partner was not cleared medically to go on their upcoming deployment which is why he is “getting to know” Mushe.

Sergeant McKenna praises Mushe during obedience training. McKenna and Mushe recently became partners after McKenna’s old partner was not cleared for their upcoming deployment.

Figo, an 8 year old German Shepard has been McKenna’s partner since he became a MWD handler a year ago. Figo has been on five deployments and prior to this recent tasking, he was diagnosed with arthritis in his hips.

“All dogs in our kennel are awesome and are trained properly,” McKenna said. “We all work with our assigned partners daily, so now Mushe and I are learning each other.”

The relationship between a handler and his canine friend is vital to mission success and the safety of all U.S. Government personnel and assets.

Even though they haven’t been working together long, progress is noticeable and McKenna feels very proud and excited to deploy with Mushe in the spring.




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