Archive for canine

Engineers and canines

Posted in Army Dog teams with tags , , , , , on May 11, 2009 by wardogmarine

By DawnDee Bostwick
Waynesville Daily Guide

Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. – The military has used animals in combat for years. From geese, to canines to dolphins, animals of all sizes and habitats have found a new purpose in helping defend the country.

The Engineer Canine Company at Fort Leonard Wood is no exception to this rule. Though they’re the first engineer company to have canines, the program isn’t something that’s new to the Armed Forces.
Historically, man’s best friend began military service in World War II. Since then, canines have served alongside men and women in uniform in Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq.

By submitted

And while this company’s soldiers’ furry buddies might look like your run-of-the-mill family pet, they’re far from it.
The working dogs, as they’re often referred to, undergo extensive training to detect explosive materials.

Two types of working dogs can be found on the post, including mine detection dogs and special search dogs.
The importance of the animals is not lost on their handlers. Without their superior sense of smell and aptitude for learning, many items that could harm soldiers might go undiscovered.
“We’re taking stuff off the battlefield that can be used against us,” John Chris, one of the company’s soldiers, said.

The canines are specifically selected to serve, and while not all that are selected make it through the program, many do. Assigned a military record, the animals are even eligible for certain medals for the work they do. The length of their career depends on the animal, Thomas Jefferies, another soldier, said.
But when they’re done with their job here, that doesn’t mean they’re not able to work in another field.
These working dogs can find homes at the FBI, local police agencies and the like.

Training is no easy task either, although it can be fun for both parties.
“Dogs are like humans, they learn at different paces,” Jefferies said, explaining that it might take one dog a bit longer than another to learn a concept. But the hard work pays off, as seen in a demonstration the company had for local media on Thursday.
Once this canine found its target, he was rewarded— and happily so.
A competition on May 14 will put these soldiers against some of the best in the nation, in both military and civilian life. The working dog competition will test the soldiers’ and their furry friends skills and ability to overcome obstacles.
“We’re going to be competing with teams across the country,” said Chris, who will compete with a special search dog.

This is also the first time the competition has been open to mine dogs, something that is both exciting and intimidating at the same time.
Mark Gray might have explained it best, saying, “It’s kind of nerve wrecking, but it’s fun all at the same time. I get to play with my puppy.”
Puppy might not be the word most would go to when describing a dog with the capabilities these ones have, but it also sums up the bond that grows between the soldier and their animal.
While these dogs aren’t family pets, they are family. Having a partner that won’t talk back, argue or get upset with you also has its advantages, Michael Tucker said.

“It’s a good feeling to be able to work with something like that,” Tucker said, noting it does take effort on the part of the human to learn a dog’s ‘language’. “It’s a whole new experience. It’s a new challenge, everyday.”
And for Chris, this career is an opportunity to do something he’s always loved to do.
“I’ve turned a game, when I was a kid of playing with the dog, into something I do for a living,” he said.


Working As A Team-Waskom PD’s K9s bring home top honors

Posted in police dog teams, police dogs with tags , , , , , , , on May 9, 2009 by wardogmarine

Sometimes small town police departments have the biggest hearts, especially when it comes to K9s.

Waskom Police Department’s K9 partnerships, Officer Forrest Mitchell with K9 Harley and Officer Dwayne Longmire with K9 Caesar proved just that at the 2009 National Narcotic Detector Dog Association conference.
smalltown teams

Terri Hahn/News Messenger
Officer Dwayne Longmire with K9 Caesar and Officer Forrest Mitchell with K9 Harley took top honors in the teams competition at the 2009 National Narcotic Detector Dog Conference in Corpus Christi.

“For four dogs from Harrison County to place in the top 50 percent is saying great things about Harrison County K9s,” said Mitchell, who added that two of the dogs placed in the top 20 percent.

The conference was April 20 through April 24 in Corpus Christi and included 160 K9 contestants from 28 states.

Waskom’s two K9s and their human handlers worked together to take first in teams. Harley placed third overall, which earned him the Mike Brown Award for Top Malinois. Caesar placed 33 overall.

“That’s what (Mitchell) said before we went, that more than anything he’d like to bring back a trophy for teams,” said Longmire.

Brown was a legendary Malinois trainer, renowned for his deep rapport and communication with his dogs. The comparison to Brown is a deserved honor for Mitchell, Longmire said.

In their first year to compete at the NNDDA’s annual competition, Harrison County Sheriff’s Deputy Randy Payne and K9 Rusty took 40th place and Deputy Brian Best with K9 Bruce took 72nd overall.

“This was Harrison County’s first year to compete and with young dogs. They will be real contenders next year,” predicted Mitchell.

Officer Mitchell has been at the Waskom Police Department for three years. He owns both dogs and has been working with Harley in narcotics detection for four years.

Mitchell also trained Caesar in narcotics detection while at the Jefferson Police Department, where he worked one year before coming to Waskom.

Harley is a 13-year-old Belgian malinois. This was his third year to compete in the NNDDA narcotics competition placing 104th his first year and 19th last year in Jackson, Miss. “I was thinking about retiring him because of his age, but with the heart he showed in the competition, I’m going to keep him in,” said Mitchell

Officer Longmire, an animal lover like Mitchell, has been working with Caesar for a year since getting to know the 5-year-old German shepherd while renting an apartment near Mitchell.

“This is my first year to compete with Caesar though I have with other dogs while working as a K9 officer in New London,” said Longmire, who has been at WPD since 2007 and has two years of K9 experience from New London Police Department.

Caesar placing 33rd was a major accomplishment for the K9 as he had been three years retired and only trained from January to April before the competition.

“We practice a little bit and he worked vehicles well. Even with the distractions of the highway, he went back to work like he had last stepped out of the car yesterday,” said Longmire.

Both men took the time to honor their own dog training mentors. Longmire credited his K9 knowledge to David Dockins and Scott McCally who taught him how to train and bond.

“Placing so well also says great things about Forrest and his work with in Jefferson for Caesar to place so well,” said Longmire.

Mitchell credited Karen Bush and Norm Gardener of Blanchard, La., who showed him how to train dogs and also gave Harley to him four years ago.

“Harley’s success has progressed over the years and he has matured a lot in the competitions,” said Mitchell. “Having a good dog in your department and trusting him is a big benefit to the department.”

Anyone who would like to see Mitchell, Longmire, Harley and Caesar in action can attend a K9 demonstration during a Drug Awareness Program at 3:30 p.m. on May 28 at New Hope Apartments in Waskom.

About 300 dogs and their handlers attended the 2009 NNDDA Conference though not all competed in the narcotics competition. Next year’s competition will be in Bossier City, La. For more information about the NNDDA visit

Holloman bids Uro good-bye

Posted in Military Working Dogs with tags , , , , , , , on May 9, 2009 by wardogmarine

By Tech. Sgt. Christopher D. Flahive, 49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Holloman Air Force Base members said goodbye May 1 to one of their own at a memorial service rendering full military honors to a 49th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog.

Uro, a 4-year-old German shepherd, died April 24 at Holloman. His death was determined to be caused by gastric dilatation volvulus, which is common among larger breeds of dogs and also working dogs.
Uro, a 49th Security Forces Squadron military working dog stationed at Holloman Air Force Base. A memorial service honoring his service took place May 1 in Heritage Park on Holloman. (Photo provided by 49th Security Forces Squadron)

“He was a very calm and lovable dog and wanted to please everyone” said Staff Sgt. Stephanie Finch, K-9 handler/patrolman. “He was very friendly and if you just saw him (without his handler), you would never know he was a working dog.”

Born on Oct. 17, 2004, in Germany, Uro came to Holloman in September 2006, having completed over 100 days of military working dog training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Like many working dogs, Uro was dual certified in narcotics detection and as a patrol dog.

Although he had not yet deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, Uro was instrumental locally in the discovery of narcotics on five separate occasions, including two while working with a Joint Drug Task Force in El Paso.

Although loving and playful, Uro was also very protective of his fellow officers. On one occasion, Uro was dispatched to assist patrolmen who were dealing with an unruly individual. When the individual became violent, Uro’s years of training and preparation paid off as he quickly subdued the individual, said Sergeant Finch.

“We protect the base population and the dogs protect us,” said Staff Sgt. Kevin Williams, K-9 handler/patrolman, who was Uro’s handler when he died.

Like all other active-duty members, Uro was provided full military honors, which included the presentation of the colors, the playing of “Taps,” a flag folding ceremony and a three volley firing party.

“The untimely death of Military Working Dog Uro was a devastating loss for both our K-9 section and the unit,” said Chief Master Sgt. Donald Tapp, 49th Security Forces manager. “Although one of our youngest dogs, he had conducted several thousand training and search hours in support of the home security mission. Uro was a true defender and a vital police asset. He will be greatly missed, but his devotion to duty in support of the 49th Security Forces Squadron mission will live on in spirit.”

UMass Amherst Police retire their Four-Legged Friends

Posted in retired dogs with tags , , , , , , , on April 14, 2009 by wardogmarine

K9 unit members Max, an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois and Dutch shepherd mix, and Kaila, a 9-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever, are officially off-duty after a combined seven years of service with the UMass Police Department. Newcomer Bosco is joining the force to follow in his predecessors paw-steps.

Vice President Joe Biden Gets War Dog Protection

Posted in air force teams, military working dog handlers, Military Working Dogs, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , on April 10, 2009 by wardogmarine

341st SFS supports VP visit to Chile

by Senior Airman Dillon White
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs Office
Tactical obedience
Staff Sgt. Greg Maatta, 341st Security Forces Squadron, military working dog handler, and Blitz, a Belgian Malinois bomb dog, perform tactical obedience exercises April 2, outside the 341st SFS MWD kennel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Dillon White)

4/10/2009 – MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont., — Two 341st Security Forces Squadron military working dog teams deployed to Santiago, Chile, March 25 to 30 in support of Vice President Joe Biden’s visit there.

Staff Sgts. Greg Maatta and John Johnson, with their partners Blitz and Bibi, supported the United States Secret Service by sweeping hotel rooms, hallways, elevators and the area surrounding the hotel where Vice President Biden stayed. The teams swept for explosive devices prior to the vice president’s arrival at the hotel and continually re-checked areas during his visit.

According to a White House press release, the vice president was in Santiago to attend a conference with the Presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay, and the Prime Ministers of Spain, Norway and the United Kingdom.
Although the teams did not meet Vice President Biden, they said they enjoyed the temporary duty assignment.

“This was the first Secret Service mission I’ve done,” Sergeant Maatta said. “We were responsible for the entire hotel, and it was one of the biggest hotels in Santiago.”

The two teams from Malmstrom were responsible for a 25-story four-star hotel. Unlike deployed areas, the air conditioning provided a comfortable working environment for the Belgian-Malinois bomb dogs, Sergeant Johnson said.

Sergeants Maatta and Johnson left their Airman Battle Uniforms at home during the trip, as the teams do not wear military uniforms when working for the Secret Service.

“Your military affiliation takes a back seat,” Sergeant Maatta said. “For all intents and purposes, you are a Secret Service agent, so you wear what they wear, and that’s anything from formal dress with a tie, to a polo shirt and khaki pants. This just helps you blend into the group you work around.”

When the team showed up at the Santiago Airport, they were met by the noses of dogs trained to search for a type of contraband less ordinary for a dog to be trained to find — food.

“It is against the law to transport food in and out of Chile, so the dogs zeroed in on Sergeant Johnson’s bag,” Sergeant Maatta said. “We still joke about that.”

K-9 post card

Staff Sgt. John Johnson, 341st Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, and Bibi, Belgian Malinois bomb dog, pause for a photo opportunity in Santiago, Chile, where the team was on temporary duty assignment with the United States Secret Service in support of a vice presidential visit March 25 to 30. (Courtesy photo) 

Both of the sergeants were carrying their dog’s food in their backpacks, and when they were walking through the airport, an airport security dog singled out Sergeant Johnson.

The Secret Service agent in charge of their mission was at the airport to pick them up, and it was agreed the dog food was not contraband.

When they made it to the hotel, they were given times to arrive for duty, and “black-and-white” instructions, Sergeant Maatta said.

The two Malmstrom teams were part of a four-team unit, comprised of teams from various military branches. Each team also worked with four explosive ordnance disposal teams, consisting of two technicians from various services each.

“There is no [on the job training],” Sergeant Maatta said. “They expect you to be ready to go when you get there.”

The job required the teams to work roughly eight hours a day. Sergeant Maatta worked the night shift, and Sergeant Johnson worked during the days.

Constant sweeps of areas were normal during their on-duty time, Sergeant Johnson said.

“I swept one hallway about 16 times one afternoon,” Sergeant Johnson said. “Every time someone comes in or out of an area, it has to be swept, and it doesn’t matter how recent it was when they last came through.”

When the teams were not sweeping the hotel for explosives, they were sweeping Santiago, Chile, for lunch, and a few photo opportunities.

The sergeants are both looking forward to their next TDY in support of the Secret Service, they said.

Read this story here: VP K9 Teams

Iraqi Police K-9 Commander Learns K-9 Techniques, Handling

Posted in Army Dog teams, Foreign Dog Teams, Military Working Dogs, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2009 by wardogmarine

Multi-National Division-Central

Story by Spc. Debralee Crankshaw
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq – As the U.S. continues to assist Iraqis in becoming a self-sustaining force, the U.S. is providing them with valuable training, including the use of working dogs.

The 212th Military Police Detachment demonstrated to the Iraqi police K-9 unit commander from Hillah just how essential military working dogs can be in accomplishing the mission during a training excercise, March 15.

Staff Sgt. Storm jumps a wall on the obstacle course with encouragement from his handler, Sgt. David Ricks, 212th Military Police Detachment, a native of Jourdanton, Texas, as Capt. Anis Fadhil, Iraqi police K-9 unit commander from Hillah observes. The IPs visited the kennels to witness the capabilities of the military working dogs.

The 212th provided a demonstration in basic obedience and aggression. Soldiers gave commands to their dogs, led them through an obstacle course and performed biting and explosives detection exercises.

“The purpose of the training is to show the capabilities of the dogs and get the Iraqis used to training the dogs,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Rodgers, Forward Operating Base Kalsu kennel master from Bradford, Pa. “It gives them a goal to accomplish. They have seen the capabilities of the dogs so now they have something to work toward.”

Capt. Anis Fadhil, the IP K-9 commander, took the training to heart.

“When we get the dogs, we will try to duplicate the training as closely as possible,” he said.

The training not only showed the commander what to work for, it also information on how to run his own kennel.

“Seeing our kennels helped give him a good idea of how it’s supposed to happen, so they can go back and start their kennels up,” said Rodgers.

This visit was the first of many, according to Rodgers. U.S. handlers will work closely with Iraqi handlers to teach them how to manage working dogs on their next visit.

“This will help Iraq because of the situation everyday with [improvised explosive devices] and suicide bombers,” he said. “This will help decrease that kind of activity.”

 Capt. Anis Fadhil, Iraqi police K-9 unit commander from Hillah (right) and Dr. Abdil Husain Mohsin, IP K-9 veterinarian, greet Sgt. Xando and his handler, Spc. Timothy Conley, 212th Military Police Detachment K-9 handler and a native of Puyallup, Wash. The IPs visited the kennels to witness the capabilities of the military working dogs.

Read this story here: Iraqi K9 Handling

Military working dog Sgt. Ccapo attacks Army Spc. Timothy Conley, 212th Military Police Detachment K-9 handler, during a bite exercise to demonstrate the capabilities of the military working dogs to the Iraqi police K-9 commander from Hillah on Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq, March 15, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Debralee P. Crankshaw  

Military working dog Sgt. Ccapo attacks Army Spc. Timothy Conley, 212th Military Police Detachment K-9 handler, during a bite exercise to demonstrate the capabilities of the military working dogs to the Iraqi police K-9 commander from Hillah on Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq, March 15, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Debralee P. Crankshaw

Airmen, Soldiers team up to keep working dog in the fight

Posted in air force teams, police dog teams, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2009 by wardogmarine

by Staff Sgt. Thomas J. Doscher
386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

1/15/2009 – SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) — Dental Airmen teamed up with Army veterinarians to give an Air Force working dog a root canal and get her back into the fight Jan. 15 at an air base in Southwest Asia. 

Airmen, Soldiers team up to keep working dog in the fight
Military working dog Kitti awaits her root canal at the feet of her handler, Senior Airman Adam Belward Jan. 15 at an air base in Southwest Asia. Kitti’s operation required the collaboration of both an Air Force dentist and an Army veterinarian. Airman Belward is assigned to the 822nd Security Forces Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Courtney Richardson) 

Airmen of the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group and Soldiers from the 218th Medical Detachment to work on 5-year-old Belgian melinois Kitti who broke her tooth while trying to chew her way out of her kennel during the flight from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. 

“She doesn’t like to be left alone,” said Senior Airman Adam Belward, Kitti’s handler from the 822nd Security Forces Squadron from Moody Air Force Base, Ga. 

“She was very stressed out in her kennel and tried to chew her way out,” said the native of Norwalk, Conn. 

Army veterinarians in charge of providing medical care for military working dogs didn’t have all the necessary equipment to treat Kitti. The solution was a collaborative effort with the 386th EMDG’s dental team, who had an X-ray machine and an experienced dentist. The veterinarians had the anesthesia and experience with dogs. 

“(The veterinarian) has talents I don’t have, and I have talents she doesn’t have, so we both need each other,” said Lt. Col. (Dr.) Mark Henderson, a 386th EMDG dentist. “It was definitely a teamwork concept.” 

With Kitti and Airman Belward due in Afghanistan in a week, the options were limited. They could either perform the root canal at the air base in Southwest Asia, send the dog to be treated at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, or pull the tooth altogether. 

Airman Belward said he was apprehensive about the procedure. 

“I was nervous about it,” he said. “It’s one of her key things for protecting herself, for protecting me.” 

Army Capt. (Dr.) Elizabeth Williams of the 218th MD said the procedure had a 95 percent success rate. 

“I have a good staff with a good anesthesia technician, a good, healthy dog and a strong source of experience,” she said. “We can do it here, invest a little time here and send her on her way.” 

Airmen, Soldiers team up to keep working dog in the fight
Lt. Col. (Dr.) Mark Henderson drills a hole in the tooth of Air Force military working dog Kitti to perform a root canal with the assistance of Army Capt. (Dr.) Elizabeth Williams Jan. 15 at an air base in Southwest Asia. Dr. Henderson is a 386th Expeditionary Medical Group dentist. Captain Williams is a 218th Medical Detachment veterinarian. The 386th EMDG and the 218th staffs had to combine their resources and experience for the dog’s operation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Courtney Richardson)

Sending the dog back to Lackland AFB would take a week, and the vets were reluctant to pull the tooth because doing so weakens the jaw. Dog teeth are more deeply rooted and pulling a tooth requires pulling a bit of bone as well, Captain Williams said. 

“Patrol dogs need to be able to bite people and keep them from running away,” she said. “It’s not a mission ender. It’s like when someone has four fingers on their hand instead of five, and there’s never been a study that says being bitten with three teeth hurts less than being bitten with four.” 

“Three holes in someone is pretty bad,” Airman Belward agreed. “But four is ideal.” 

Complicating the procedure was the need for an X-ray. Senior Airman Dedric Bullock, a 386th EMDG radiologist technician, never imagined having to take X-rays of an attack dog. He said there were advantages and disadvantages to working with a dog. 

“The factors are a dog’s snout. It’s in a good aspect,” he said. “If it was in the back, there’d be no way we can do this.” 

Staff Sgt. Heather Gaffney, the 386th EMDG dental NCO in charge who is deployed from Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, said each patient is different, particularly the nonhuman ones. 

“Every patient has its own challenges,” she said. “Obviously a sedated dog is going to be completely different. It’s interesting. We never get to do this kind of stuff.” 

After a four-hour procedure, Kitti was in the clear with two silver fillings in her canine. 

“She’s ready to go out and win the war on terrorism,” Airman Belward said. 

Dr. Henderson said that aside from lacking a tool neither he nor Dr. Williams possessed and having to work through it, the procedure went according to the plan. 

“I said next time we should do one that’s tooth is broken even worse,” he said after the procedure. 

Airmen, Soldiers team up to keep working dog in the fight
Army Pfc. Roderick Aldrich assists Army Capt. (Dr.) Elizabeth Williams with the intubation of Air Force military working dog Kitti before her root canal Jan. 15 at an air base in Southwest Asia. Private Aldrich and Dr. Williams are assigned to the 218th Medical Detachment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Courtney Richardson)

The native of Texas City, Texas, said the procedure was important because keeping working dogs in the fight is vital to the war effort. 

“Military working dogs are a unique, nonhuman, person-type weapons system,” Dr. Henderson said. “It’s an awesome weapon system I fully appreciate, and we have to have their capabilities in theater.” 

Dr. Williams agreed, adding that’s why she’s here in the fight. 

“It’s always good to get the dogs back on their feet, chasing bad guys and sniffing out bombs, and that’s what we do here,” she said.