Fort Huachuca honors military working dog SSgt Britt

Britt, military working dog, earns last rites befitting hero
Arizona Daily Star ^ | Carol Ann Alaimo 

Britt the bomb-sniffing dog, who served overseas in Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, will get a funeral befitting a hero at Fort Huachuca. The ashes of the Army canine, recently put down due to neurological illness, will be interred behind the kennels that served as his home base as a military color guard looks on.

The 11-year-old German shepherd was euthanized on Sept. 11 and will be buried Dec. 3 at the Southern Arizona Army post.

Following tradition, taps will be played and a flag folded and presented to Sgt. Megan Hobson, Britt’s last handler.

“We lost a fallen comrade,” said Hobson, 24, a Utah native serving with the fort’s 18th Military Police Detachment.

“He may have been a piece of Army equipment, but I loved that dog,” said Hobson, who was with Britt when he died.

The German shepherd held the rank of staff sergeant — military dogs always outrank their handlers by one stripe, to discourage ill treatment of a superior. He had several Army medals to his credit and had worked as an explosives detector dog since 1999.

Overseas, he took part in numerous missions that likely saved lives, officials said. On patrol in Iraq, he unearthed weapons caches and makeshift bombs, and even collared an insurgent by chasing him down.

Hobson, Britt’s handler for three months, arranged for the canine to spend his final days in the Huachuca Mountains doing his favorite things.

“They let me have a couple days with him where he was just a dog, he didn’t have to work,” she recalled.

She bought him doggie delicacies — sirloin steak with mashed potatoes from a Texas Roadhouse restaurant — and they played fetch with his favorite squeaky toy.

Britt had a reputation for nipping people — “love bites” as the handlers call them — but Hobson, a rarity as a female handler, said she never saw that side of him. “I think he needed a woman in his life,” she said.

Fort Huachuca spokeswoman Tanja Linton said the fanfare at an Army dog’s funeral is not quite the same as honors rendered for a human.

Still, she said in a statement, the service aims to pay respects to “a different kind of soldier.”

“Britt served his country with loyalty and distinction,” she said.
● Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at 573-4138 or at calaimo@azstarnet.com.

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