Dog Kennel sniffs out trouble
By MCSN Kenneth Abbate, Periscope Staff(www.kingsbayperiscope.com), Kings Bay, Georgia
Dogs are thought of by many as man’s best friend. Nowhere is that statement truer than at the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay Dog Kennel, where the dogs there can be depended on in life or death situations.
The kennel’s mission is to provide support both to security and the commanding officer for antiterrorism and to prevent drug trafficking at NSB Kings Bay. By completing their mission, the kennel supports the overall mission of the base by ensuring the safety of everyone on the base. The kennel consists of four dog handlers and their K-9s, with one dog and handler deploying on an IA.
MA1(SW) Michael Brandon gives his dog Aron a bath outside the kennel. Brandon says that this task is usually done on Fridays during the kennel’s field day which consists of washing each dog kennel and cleaning the dogs. Photos by MCSN Kenneth Abbate
The typical workday for the kennel master-at-arms is to arrive to the kennel early in the morning and feed the dogs one of their two meals for the day. After feeding the dogs, handlers take their partner to perform daily training exercises unless they are scheduled to perform vehicle or building inspections followed by random patrols of the base.
“I think that our job here at NSB Kings Bay is very important because this is a very large base and with the dogs we can assist in providing the best all around security of the commands and their staffs,” said Master-at-Arms 1st Class (SW) Michael Brandon. “In my opinion, it is very critical to have these dogs here because of what they can do that we can’t. Their noses are a hundred times better than humans and they can do the job twice as fast.”
Each handler and their dog are assigned from the moment they arrive to the base and each creates a bond with one another to help each other grow as individuals and as a team. Without their hard work and continuous training to improve as a team, the kennel would not be as successful as they are now at doing their job.
“The idea is to leave one handler with one dog during their tour at Kings Bay,” explained Brandon. “With IA’s that come up for Iraq or Afghanistan, sometimes we have to switch handlers with others dogs to help the mission.”
The bond between MA2 Wilkonson Kinyon and his Military Working Dog Yossi still stands strong after three years together.
“If not for the IA’s, the goal is to keep handlers with they dogs for the entire tour so they can continue to grow and bond with one another in order to achieve our goals. It would be very difficult to have to keep training a new dog every few months because the dogs will tend to lose that bond with their original handler.”
This bond between handlers and their dogs does not go unnoticed. NSB Kings Bay Executive Officer Cmdr. James Haigh feels that keeping the dogs with their original handlers for the entire tour, helps them both get better at their jobs and is instrumental to helping them accomplish their mission.
“Each of the dogs have their own personality just like the handlers have theirs, which sometimes do not mix well together, but the kennel master is responsible for assigning the dogs with their appropriate handlers and as it turns out they have done a great job,” said Haigh.
MA2 Terrell James takes his dog Ano through the kennel’s obstacle course in order to keep his dog’s skills sharp.
The dogs are remembered as war heroes and proud members of the military after they retire from service either due to age or medical issues. Yossi, who worked with Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Wilkonson Kinyon for three years at Kings Bay, is retiring from service after eight years. This specific retirement is special for the kennel because the command has made it official that his handler, Kinyon, will take the responsibility of looking after of Yossi.
“Just like all good Sailors, dogs want to retire, whether it be because of physical reasons or age,” Haigh said. “Yossi has been a great dog, but has had some hip problems that have hindered him. So if we could have found someone to take him on board it would be great. Fortunately, it was his handler Kinyon, which makes it even better because the dog gets to continue his life where we know he will be taken care of very well. Anytime you can get that marriage between handler and dog, it is a good thing,” Haigh concluded.
Military Working Dog Ano enjoys playing with the big ball during his free time at the kennel’s obstacle course. The handlers feel that it is important to have fun with the dogs from time to time by teaching them the difference between play and work time.
This article is from the Kings Bay Periscope in Kings Bay, Georgia