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Military working dog retires

  • Published
  • By Capt. Toni Tones
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Airmen and Soldiers paid special tribute to Military Working Dog Black, who retired after 63 dog-years of faithful and dedicated military service to the Air Force here Feb. 29. 

"Today we recognize a true partner in our fight, Black, who is far more special than some kind of mascot," said Col. Thomas Huizenga, 755th Air Expeditionary Group commander. "Black has been a true partner-warrior; a model of what a real wingman should be." 

Black was born February 1997 and selected by the Department of Defense to join the elite force of military working dogs in April 1999. Black started basic patrol dog course and explosive detection training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in April--completing the course in four months. Black was certified in August 1999 as a detector dog on nine different explosive odors and moved to his first duty station at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla. 

"Black has, in his nine years of service, seen more deployed time than most of us gathered here," said Colonel Huizenga. "He's served honorably and well, and earned his retirement with his loyalty and dedication to his duty and his partners." 

Throughout Black's career, he was temporarily assigned in direct support of the Global War on Terror effort to Southwest Asia in 2000 and 2001, Bahrain and Southwest Asia in 2002, Kyrgyzstan in 2005, and Afghanistan in 2007. Black also worked domestic missions deploying twice to New York after September 11th. 

"The relationship between a dog and his handler is special," said Sergeant 1st Class Byron Sago, Afghanistan MWD program manager. "They do everything together and that bond is unbreakable. We ask a lot of the dogs and they don't complain or say a word. They are the best soldiers anyone can ask for." 

Staff Sgt. Jessica Shoemaker, Black's last handler, recited the poem, "The Guardians of the Night" in dedication to him. 

"Words can't explain how I feel," said Sergeant Shoemaker. "The poem is the best example to describe how important companionship, friendship and loyalty are to both the dog and the handler. It's like the poem states, only others like us will understand our bond." 

Black has protected the United States from enemies, foreign and domestic, and the lives of the handlers who loved him. He will return to his first dog handler, Tech Sgt. David Moore, where he will live out his remaining days in peace and comfort ... enjoying a few Milk-Bones.