Archive for working dog

Military working dog team inspects potential 22,000-gallon bomb

Posted in air force teams, military working dog handlers with tags , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2009 by wardogmarine

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

4/10/2009 – CAMP BUCCA, Iraq (AFNS) — Military working dog handlers and their canine partners are used throughout Southwest Asia to detect explosives that are meant to injure servicemembers and innocent civilians. 

For one dog handler, Staff Sgt. Joseph Null, and his dog, Lucca, this task took an interesting turn.

CAMP BUCCA, Iraq — Staff Sgt. Joseph Null, 42nd Military Police Brigade military working dog handler, and his dog, Lucca, successfully investigated a 22,000-gallon fuel truck that had gone off the road in Iraq to ensure it contained no explosives. Sergeant Null is deployed from the 52nd Security Forces Squadron at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. (Courtesy photo)

“There was a fuel truck that had gone off road and got stuck in the sand,” said the sergeant, who is part of the 42nd Military Police Brigade. “It had been abandoned overnight, and I was tasked to go out with the Army to sweep the area leading up to the vehicle and basically clear the area for improvised explosive devices that had been attached to the vehicle.”

This is an important, though dangerous step, he said.

“Anytime you’re going to have people go into an unknown area, you want to clear it as best as you possibly can,” Sergeant Null said. “If you can have an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team clear it or a bomb-sniffing dog go out there and clear the area, then you’re taking one more threat away from the Soldier who has to go out there and do a job.”

But IEDs weren’t the only threat posed by the abandoned truck. It was carrying 22,000 gallons of gas, potentially turning the truck into a massive fuel bomb.

“That makes a pretty big bomb if there’s some C4 strapped to it,” he said.

For 45 agonizing minutes, Sergeant Null and Lucca searched the area, the handler waiting for the working dog to give him some sign that all wasn’t well with the tanker truck.

“It makes you a little nervous clearing a real area, because you know it’s the real deal,” he said. “But that’s your job. This is what I signed up to do. Somebody’s got to do it, right? If my dog had sat, I would have praised her and gotten back to the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle as quick as possible to report what had happened.”

At this point, it was Lucca’s show. The German Shepherd would either sit, indicating the presence of a bomb, or she wouldn’t.

“You don’t look at the dog as a dog,” Sergeant Null said. “You train together all the time. We’ve been together since June and I couldn’t count the number of hours we’ve spent together. It’s like having a best friend. You think on that same wavelength. My dog goes and does her job, and you know what to look for while she does her job. If you can’t trust the dog, you shouldn’t be out there anyway.”

But Lucca didn’t sit. The truck was clear.

“Everything was good to go,” Sergeant Null said.

Eight hours later, the truck was finally pulled free of the sand, and the convoy made its way back to base. Sergeant Null said that although his primary mission is inside the wire, he’s more than willing to go out again if called upon.

“It’s my job,” he said. “It’s the best job in the Air Force. You get to play with a dog and get paid pretty well for it. You can’t beat that.”

Col. Alan Metzler, 586th Air Expeditionary Group commander, said Joint Expeditionary Tasking Airmen like Sergeant Null are providing critical services in the joint environment and excelling at it.

“Our combat Airmen are doing an outstanding job in support of the mission at Camp Bucca, and Sergeant Null proves it,” Colonel Metzler said. “Often, they have to adapt to situations and perform unique missions we don’t normally ask them to do in the Air Force. Airmen like him demonstrate the Air Force’s commitment to our mission in Iraq

Read this story here: K9 team inspects truck


Military Working Dog Hero Lex in a Veterans Day Parade

Posted in fallen handlers, Marine dog teams, Military Working Dogs, Miscellaneous, retired dogs, various k9 videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2008 by wardogmarine

If you have not read or heard about the Marine military working dog handler Cpl Dustin Lee and his mwd Lex then check them out. Cpl Lee was killed in action during the War on Terror but his mwd Lex survived and has been adopted by Cpl Lee’s family. This is video of Lex in a Veterans Day Parade in Phoenix from this past month.  

Buster the Army Sniffer Dog

Posted in Foreign Dog Teams, various k9 videos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2008 by wardogmarine

A military dog in the British Army, Buster was awarded the Hero Dog of the Year award back in 2005 by Crufts,  “the world’s largest dog show.” No matter where you go in the world, you can see the enthusiasm and passion handler’s have for their dogs and their jobs. During the interview they ask how many people Buster is responsible for saving. I’ll let you listen to the response in the video, basically you cannot put a number on the lives that have been saved if you find the weapons, explosives, etc before they are allowed to be used again. I love how a dog as simple and innocent looking as Buster is can be responsible for achieving such great accomplishments. 

Heroic dog remembered after serving 10 years

Posted in fallen dogs, Military Working Dogs, Miscellaneous, police dog teams, police dogs, Various Teams, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2008 by wardogmarine



By Dennis Yohnka 
The Daily Journal correspondent in Illinois

Lorraine Spaeth tried her best to prepare for Monday. The sunless, rainy weather seemed perfect for the task at hand. She wanted to say goodbye with compassion, but hoped to avoid the overflow of emotion that some consider wasted on animals.

This day would mark her last hours with her dog, Kelsey. And her first hours of adjusting to life without her. They weren’t just companions. They were co-workers, partners for 10 years.    As longtime members of the Manteno Fire Department and the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department Canine Search Team, it was Lorraine and Kelsey’s duty to help bring closure to families with missing loved ones. The 13-year-old German shepherd made three “live finds” in her career, but her specialty was locating the lifeless bodies that stymied police investigations.

Monday, the process of closure began for Kelsey.

Spaeth, her veterinarian and a few friends said their last goodbyes, before this honored public servant was euthanized. Her body was taken for cremation at the Wolfe Whispering Winds pet crematory in Chebanse. Services there were donated out of respect for Kelsey’s service.

Kelsey shows her love for kittens.(photo courtesy of The Daily Journal)

On Tuesday, the ashes were spread in a private location where Kelsey once trained and played. Yes, even working dogs have some time for play.

“She was great on the job, but she was just as good as a companion,” Lorraine said. “She had cancer four years ago and we got her through that. She didn’t work much toward the end. She was more of my lap dog then.”

Kelsey started having seizures earlier this year; and as they became more commonplace and more stressful for the dog, the decision was made to end her fear and discomfort.

Lorraine described Kelsey as a good traveler, and they took on missing persons cases in Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin, as well as Illinois. Kelsey was responsible for the discovery of 10 bodies in the Kankakee area. But Lorraine is more comfortable recalling the living subjects.

“There was a fugitive once in a cornfield. I didn’t know it, but Kelsey did. She started barking and wanting to go in the field,” Lorraine said. “I shouted out that the man had better come out or I was going to send the dog in — and that ‘cornfield’ started talking back to me right away.”

It was more often the case that Kelsey led her human friends to the remains of bodies, sometimes little more than the bones. Since her purchase from a Monee kennel, “The Kaiser’s Miss Kelsey Storm” (that’s her given name) was trained just for this sort of work.

In fact, her reputation was such that New York City officials requested Kelsey’s help in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. She couldn’t make the trip, though. Lorraine was recovering from knee surgery at the time and couldn’t handle the duty.

“I guess I really sheltered her a lot,” Lorraine said of her friend. “I kept her away from the press. I didn’t want her distracted on the job. I didn’t let kids pet her if she was working. But I really think she was happy. She had a good life.”

Lorraine has retired from the Manteno Fire Department, but she is still active with the sheriff’s department team. After the private funeral services Monday afternoon, she expected to get back to training her fourth dog.

“There are just two important things that I want people to know about Kelsey,” Lorraine said outside the Manteno Fire Department offices. “They should know that we were part of a search team and that team goes on. Those volunteers are still out there. Still nonprofit. Still ready to serve.

“And the second thing is the appreciation I feel for Rod Wolfe (and the staff at the pet crematory). They donated their services out of respect for Kelsey’s service and I just think that’s very nice.”

With a steady shower still falling outside, Lorraine took time to go through some photos of her dog. And she remembered the more tender moments.

“We had a case — I think it was out by Limestone,” she said. “Kelsey came back from the field with a stray kitten and took it to the Red Cross tent. And then she went back to work.

“She always had a thing for kittens. She could take or leave dogs, but she loved kittens.”

After years of working closely with his police partner, Talon is retired to home and family

Posted in police dog teams, police dogs, retired dogs with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2008 by wardogmarine

photo provided by Smith family – Palmetto Police Corp. Tom Smith and police K-9 Talon in 2005 with 50lbs of seized cannabis discovered by Talon. Talon was retired in July after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he continues to live at the Smith family home in Palmetto. Talon participated in 694 arrests during his 6.5 year-long law enforcement career with Smith. Photo courtesy of the Smith family.

 – from the Bradenton Herald

Work is much too quiet these days for Cpl. Tom Smith.

The thunderous bark of the partner that accompanied Smith at work for the past 6½ years is gone.

Now, the 10-year veteran of the Palmetto Police Department is back to working shifts alone.

Smith’s shifts with Talon ended this summer when the 8-year-old dog was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Smith took Talon to a veterinarian July 15, expecting to hear of hip or elbow problems.

Instead, vets found anaplastic sarcoma that had already spread into Talon’s lymphatic system.

“For some reason, I was never thinking cancer. I was thinking we could work him a couple more years,” Smith said. “Then this came out of nowhere.”

The partner who’s assisted Smith in 271 felony arrests and 423 misdemeanor arrests is retired from police service and spending his final days with Smith and his family.

Talon’s duty now is to enjoy life as a full-time family dog with Smith, his wife, Cindy, and their three sons Alex, 19; T.J., 14; and Brandon, 12.

The Smiths have the family dogs they’ve chosen – a pug and a Japanese chin – and Talon, the German shepherd that was born in Europe, bred as a police service dog, sold to the Palmetto Police Department and assigned to Smith in 2002.

In turn, Talon also was assigned to Smith’s family then, as police dogs are required to live with their handlers.

Having a live-in K-9 concerned Cindy Smith, as a mother.

Talon’s razor-sharp teeth can easily put blood blisters on the limbs of someone brave enough to get in a bite suit used in training.

“When we first got him I wasn’t so sure, being that he’s trained to attack, about what kind of situation we were getting ourselves into,” Cindy said. “But right away, I saw he’s so loving and very sociable and took to our family right away.”

A photo album dedicated to Talon shows his family side and police service.

There’s a photo of a young Talon with a death grip on a bite suit and one with him proudly posing next to 50 pounds of marijuana he located at the post office.

At home, there’s a snapshot of Talon with the Smiths on Christmas, and one of him towering over their pug, Kirby, and Japanese chin, Precious. – Palmetto Police Corp. Tom Smith his recently retired police K-9 Talon. Talon was retired in July after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and he continues to live at the Smith family home in Palmetto. Talon participated in 694 arrests during his 6.5 year-long law enforcement career with Smith. PAUL VIDELA/

“Talon has not just been a great police dog but he has been a super family pet,” Tom said. “He’s always there when you need him.”

In return, the Smiths are there for Talon.

“Retirement has been hard on him,” Tom said.

When Tom’s at work, Cindy comforts Talon, who howls and paces for his handler.

“He’ll lay by the door and wait for Tom to come home, and every once in awhile he’ll remember why he’s upset and cry and howl again,” Cindy said.

Alex makes sure Talon gets his exercise, T.J. takes him for walks, and Brandon lets him lie at the foot of his bed at night.

“You go through all the memories of him, and you wonder what life is going to be like without him,” Cindy said.

Grace Gagliano, Bradenton city reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 2620. – Palmetto Police Corp. Tom Smith’s recently retired police K-9 Talon, at center, poses with Smith’s sons, from left, Alex, 19, Brandon, 12, and Thomas, 14. Talon and the other two affable Smith pooches Kirby, at left, and Precious live happily together, with the occasional squabble over prized chew toys. Talon, however, is the only dog in the family who can claim 694 arrests over a 6.5 year-long law enforcement career. PAUL VIDELA/

-I wish you a long lasting retirement Talon, congratulations on a wonderful career and thank you for your service.

Airport Police Department To Retire Record-Setting Canine

Posted in Various Teams, Working Dog News with tags , , , , , , , on August 12, 2008 by wardogmarine

STL Prepares To Mark Valuable Staffer’s Retirement

Record-Setting Canine To Stand Down Friday

From the Aero-News Network(

Lambert-St. Louis International Airport will witness the retirement of one of its hardest working employees this week. Pino, a 13 year-old Belgian Malinois, will end her tour of duty with the Airport Police Department this Friday, following a run of 10 years and 11 months… a record at Lambert.

Pino is currently the oldest working dog out of more than 500 certified in the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program. The TSA partners with law enforcement agencies to provide the canines, training and a yearly stipend to help protect the nation’s transportation system.

Pino arrived at Lambert in September of 1997 after graduating from the Military Working Dog Training Course at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. She is part of a 10-team K-9 unit at Lambert focusing on explosives detection and other security details.

During her career, Pino has stretched her expertise beyond Lambert providing security support to local, state and federal agencies. Pino has worked numerous high profile events — including protection details of two US Presidents, school threats that followed the Columbine Tragedy, the 1999 St. Louis visit of Pope John Paul II, the heightened security levels following 9/11, and the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.    

Pino will retire to the home of her police partner, Sgt. Steve Swafford, following her final shift at Lambert. All we can say is… we wish more TSA staffers had her work ethic.