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.


 
 

 
Courtesy photo

EOD called out for expertise

Courtesy photo The 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team recovers military ordnance July 4 from the rubble of a burnt down building at an auto repair facility in Phoenix. The Luke EOD team recovered nume...
 
 

Strong followers challenge authority

It’s not surprising that when I tell subordinates to challenge authority, I often get a look of confusion. Admittedly, this is a step used to provoke thought. Obviously, we don’t need subordinates undermining their leader’s authority. My intent is not to create insubordination — it is to underscore the importance of strong followership. Great leaders...
 
 

Travel access, opportunities not to be ignored

Possibly one of the greatest and overlooked gifts we have in the military is our ability to travel. More often than not, we are stationed at bases around the world where we have the access and opportunity to travel and see the local sites. However, it happens way too often that we ignore those opportunities....
 

 
Staff Sgt. Darlene Seltmann

Thunderbolt joins elite Thunderbirds

Staff Sgt. Darlene Seltmann 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs photojournalist, took this photo March 15 during Luke Air Force Base’s Open House and Air Show. She had no idea at the time that just a few months later she would b...
 
 

News Briefs July 25, 2014

Wanted: Airmen selfie videos The Air Force wants to hear from Airmen with unique stories about what led them to the Air Force, who are proud of their job and how it impacts the Air Force mission, or work in an exceptional unit. The 2014 American Airman Video Contest is open to all Airmen who...
 
 

Thunderbolt of the Week

Airman 1st Class Anna Valdez 56th Contracting Squadron Contracting specialist Hometown: Moscow Years in service: One Family: Husband, Phil; mother, Natalia; and father, Oleg Education: Russian State University of Trade and Economics bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics Inspirations: My parents demonstrated excellence and success in a loving environment, taught me to never give up...
 




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=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin