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Military Working Dogs Honored



Mona Moore

http://www.nwfdailynews.com/news/military-9863-dogs-ceremony.html

Florida Daily News

Five of military's finest were honored Friday with a retirement ceremony at the Air Force Armament Museum.

The ceremony was louder than usual, with an audience of the four-legged variety contributing to speeches and applause. But who could fault them?

The ceremony celebrated the careers of five military working dogs: Jacco, Deny, Blesk, Max and Marco.

It also honored K-9 units from law enforcement and the military with the dedication and unveiling of the museum's newest addition, a bronze monument.

"Faithful Partner - Guardian of the Night" was sculpted by Susan Bahary to honor and remember all working dogs, their handlers, trainers and veterinary staff.

"I hope ‘Faithful Partner -Guardian of the Night' does justice to all of our country's courageous and dedicated handlers and working dogs, and that it will be a source of healing and inspiration for generations to come," said Bahary.

"We owe a lot of dedication and support to dog teams," said Lt. Col. Timothy Meserve of Eglin Air Force Base. "They basically save people's lives."

"They're an invaluable asset to everything we're doing, both in the global war on terrorism and at home," added Maj. Keith Williams of Hurlburt Field. "Their impact is huge. Most people don't realize that."

Military dogs are trained to detect drugs and bombs. They also act as deterrents when on patrol.

"The way they detect it is with their nose. The way we detect it is by blowing it up," said Tech. Sgt. Rebecca Lind, Hurlburt Field's kennel dog master. "They're an invaluable tool in the field."

Most military dogs serve eight to 12 years before being adopted by military personnel.

"These dogs and handlers deploy as a two-person team to Afghanistan and Iraq and completely depend on one and other," said Kelly Hooker who headed fund-raising efforts for the $50,000 monument. "They have a strong bond - especially after deployment."

Volunteers worked for more than a year to bring the monument to the museum. They collected most of the $30,000 needed for the first phase of the monument from dog handlers nationwide. Daily News Staff Writer Mona Moore can be reached at 863-1111, Ext. 1443

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