Air Force

September 6, 2013

K-9: Bond between handler, dog strengthens base defense

Mayo, 56th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, bites on his reward Aug. 8 given to him by Staff Sgt. Justin Lopez, 56th SFS MWD handler, after searching for explosives or narcotics during training in a warehouse at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. The training tested the MWD’s senses for detecting explosives or narcotics in different quantities. Lopez calls San Diego home.

 

SOUTHWEST ASIA — Deploying in pairs, military working dogs and their handlers share a bond exclusive to their career field; each directly dependent upon the other to accomplish the mission.

This bond is strengthened in a deployed environment, keeping the 380th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron military working dog teams focused on improving their capability that provides an extra level of protection for members of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing and every person visiting the installation.

“In a new environment, a handler and his dog learn more about each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Serrano, 380th ESFS military working dog handler. “A dog can see, hear and smell things that humans can’t, making them an important member of the security forces team. While deployed, we face new challenges making both of us better.”

MWDs can be trained to smell anything from money to narcotics, to recognize hostile actions and to respond appropriately in whatever situation they find themselves. Intense heat, long days and new surroundings test these abilities unlike home station, said Serrano.

Every morning, handlers arrive an hour before their shift to perform health and welfare checks on their dogs. They warm up together with a stretch and jog and hit the road for patrol.

MWDs and their handlers patrol for several purposes, said Staff Sgt. Bruce Martinez Jr., 380th ESFS kennel master. They provide real and psychological deterrents for any person who might have malicious intentions.

Throughout the day, the teams could be faced with different types of missions under a wide array of conditions. From working at a vehicle search area to providing security for visiting dignitaries or the U.S. Navy, MWD teams are always on the move.

“The MWD teams enhance the protection capability of any security operation,” Martinez said. “Their job is to identify threats or alert the presence of danger where human sight, hearing or smell couldn’t. This is why the handler will always put the needs of the MWD first, because they are the ones who alert the handler.”

The needs of the MWDs are not always easily met. They must be trained, fed, provided medical care and monitored by their handlers.

“Dogs can be like children, they depend upon someone else for care,” said Serrano, a father of two. “At the same time, you get to see them grow, progress and get better at what they do.”

Growth and progression mainly come through training. During the day, when MWD teams are not needed elsewhere, they train. From bite drills, to testing the dog’s senses for explosives or narcotics, the 380th ESFS handlers keep their dogs busy.

By the end of the day, handlers and MWDs are typically exhausted. However, having each other makes everything a little bit better, Serrano said.

“It’s more of a passion than a job,” he said. “In a deployed location, we can devote 110 percent to our dogs because there are no distractions outside of the mission and knowing your dog has improved throughout the day is a great reward.”

The reward is shared for a long time as handlers and their MWDs will travel back to their home stations together and continue their relationship.

“The relationship between a MWD and their handler is truly hard to put into words,” Martinez said. “It’s a bond that is very hard to break. It’s a lifestyle, it takes effort, but it makes a difference in your dog and in turn benefits the mission.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Air Force News – August 28, 2015

Alaska A C-130 Hercules assigned to the36th Airlift Squadron from Yokota Air Base, Japan, became the first U.S. aircraft to drop Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members onto U.S. soil, Aug. 12 during Red Flag-Alaska. Paris U.S. Ambassador to France, Jane Hartly, recognized Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone for his actions in saving countless lives during...
 
 

People First – August 28, 2015

SAPR services offered to Air Force civilians The Air Force released a policy memo Monday allowing Air Force civilian employees who are victims of sexual assault to file restricted and unrestricted reports with their installation’s sexual assault response coordinator. The policy is effective immediately and allows SARCs and sexual assault prevention and response victim advocates to...
 
 
AFD-131209-015

SARC receive annual training

The sexual assault prevention and response coordinators and sexual assault victim advocates attend annual training as a commitment to remain resilient and up to date on all current strategies for victims of sexual assault. The ...
 

 
Courtesy photo

This week in history

1990: Operation Desert Shield Twenty-five years ago, Saddam Hussein ordered the Iraqi military to invade Kuwait. He wanted to annex what he called Iraq’s 19th Province. The country of Kuwait was Iraq’s small neighbor on the...
 
 
DT_Pronghorn-Fawns-in-the-pen-2011

Pronghorn home on range

John Kulberg Two-month old twin Sonoran pronghorn fawns remain vigilant while resting within the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge semi-captive breeding facility. The Goldwater Range is home to the Sonoran pronghorn antelo...
 
 
hispanic_heritage_1

2015 National Hispanic Heritage Month

Courtesy graphic Powering growth, influence, this year’s theme National Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, and recognizes Hispanic and Latino American heritage and culture. This year’s theme is “Honoring...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>