Fort Huachuca welcomed two new four-legged recruits to the 18th Military Police Detachment K-9 Unit, Sept. 19, bringing the total to 10 military working dogs.
Santy, a three-year-old German Shepherd, and Kusi, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois, recently graduated from the Department of Defense Military Working Dog Program, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, where they were taught obedience skills, drug and bomb detection and basic patrol functions.
Staff Sgt. Daniel Turner, 18th Military Police Detachment K-9 Unit, explained that all of the military working dogs at Fort Huachuca are trained for dual purpose: to detect and patrol.
Their average length of training at Lackland Air Force Base is four months.
“It varies with each dog. Typically they have 120 days total, 60 days in patrol and 60 days in detection, but some dogs certify faster or slower,” he said.
Here at Fort Huachuca, Santy and Kusi will continue their training daily. They are currently in an evaluation process that allows them to acclimate to the new surroundings and meet the dog handlers.
“Once we get [the dogs] we have a rapport-building stage where they can hang out and get used to the kennels,” said Turner. “Once they have adjusted to their environment, we slowly start bringing them out and work on very basic skills to see where they stand. We slowly progress their training from there.
“If you were to look at it in a Soldier aspect, they would be equivalent to a Solider coming out of basic training and [Advanced Individual Training]. They are brand new to the Army and this is their first duty station,” Turner said.
Turner explained that receiving new members with the latest training is a rare occurrence for the Fort Huachuca K-9 Unit. Santy and Kusi are the first to join the team in the last three years.
“It is definitely a welcome addition getting these two new dogs in the kennels,” he said. New dogs, he explained, bring updated systems or methods that have evolved in the training process.
For more information, contact the military working dog kennels, 533.0292, or visit http://www.napwda.com/the-dod-military-working-dog-program.