Military Service Dogs

Eileen Pace / TPR News

The nation’s top military commanders watched the flags from each branch of the service unfurl over the new U.S. Military Working Dog Teams National monument, placed at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in honor of the training site as well as the canine trainees.

About 3,000 Military Working Dogs are serving around the world right now, providing services from protection for Secret Service assignments to sniffing out I.E.D. bombs in Afghanistan. About 900 dogs are in training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland at any given time.

Eileen Pace

They served a total of 32 years of faithful service to their country, and Tuesday, they retired.

Four members of the Canine Security Forces were formally honored at a ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.

The MWDs – or Military Working Dogs --  were awarded certificates of meritorious service. Commander of the 902d Security Forces Squadron, Major Gregory Bodenstein, says all the dogs are war heroes.

DoD Military Working Dog Breeding Program Facebook Page

America’s wars have long taken their toll on the people who fight them, and the recent attention to post-traumatic stress disorder has helped improve treatment for those who suffer; however, nightly newscasts and newspaper headlines never mention the military working dogs who are also changed by the combat zone.

"Ultimately we want these dogs to become military working dogs and go down range and save lives,” said Tech. Sgt. Joe Null, who fosters canine companions for the first few months of their lives to socialize them.

Ryan Loyd / Texas Public Radio

Like any other four-legged friend, she’s pretty happy and lovable, but Layka, a Belgian Malinois, is more than man’s best friend. She is literally a life-saver.

As the ceremony began, a serviceman read the award aloud to the crowd gathered to celebrate Layka.