Commentary

July 12, 2012

5 Questions: Staff Sgt. Jeffery Worley

Station Kennel Master

1.  What does the Military Working Dog Program bring to the Corps?

The Military Working Dog program has two different types of missions. We have the Field MWDs and the Garrison MWDs. Field and Garrison are completely different from each other, like night and day.

The Field MWDs conduct both day and night training and use several different types of explosive training aids. They train to meet requirements for combat operations in Afghanistan. They are constantly evolving their training techniques to keep up with the ever-changing threats they face. The Garrison MWDs’ missions are geared more toward the safety of the Air Station and provide humanitarian support to local law enforcement agencies.  Garrison dog teams are capable of safely responding to bomb threats, locating missing children, detecting narcotics, and providing support during U.S. Secret Service missions, including but not limited to; Presidential, Vice Presidential and Secretary of State Missions, in which they deploy worldwide.

 

2.  What does being a MWD handler involve?

A Dog Handler is a select breed of Marine. The Marine must be well rounded in all aspects and must be able to adapt to every situation accordingly. A dog handler must be very flexible in their work/rest cycle. At any time they can be called upon for any type of mission. Not only must the Marine train to better themselves, they also train to better their MWD and the team as a whole. They must also take care of their MWD as if it were their own child. They bathe and groom them, ensure constant vet visits, administer medications, and even brush their teeth.

 

3. What are the primary breeds used by the MWD Program?

MWDs are purchased mostly from European vendors.  We select the dogs that are the best well-rounded for the current mission at hand.  We currently use dogs like the German Shepherd, a loyal dog with a strong bite and great sense of smell. We use the Belgian Malinois, also known as the Maligator and that name really speaks for itself.  We also use Labradors, an amazing non aggressive dog that has proven time and time again that they can adapt to any type of terrain they encounter.

 

4.  What happens to MWDs when they retire?

When a MWD reaches retirement age or has a medical condition that limits their ability to act at 100 percent, they are considered for adoption. Several things are taken into consideration during this lengthy process. The biggest factors in adoption are the adoptee, the animal’s demeanor and the adoptees living quarters. Not everyone is a suitable candidate for adopting these dogs and most of the time it is the MWDs’ last handler that takes them home. A Military Working Dog will be a Marine-trained dog until the day they chew on their last tennis ball. We recently retired out MWD Bernie to her handler, Bret Reynolds, a former Marine Corporal. To date, they both enjoy doing nothing together, all day long.

 

5.   What does the future hold for the MWD Program? 

With our operational tempo, including deployments and missions, I foresee us maintaining our current status. The MWD Program has proven over and over again to be very valuable and extremely successful.




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