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Kennel master ensures K-9 teams are mission-ready

Tech. Sgt. David Reavis, 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron kennel master, is an Aberdeen, Md. native, deployed from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lakisha A. Croley/Released)

Tech. Sgt. David Reavis, 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron kennel master, is an Aberdeen, Md. native, deployed from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Lakisha A. Croley/Released)

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- The idea of working alongside a partner that is always happy to see you, obedient and low maintenance would seem like the perfect job for most people, even if that partner is covered in fur and walks on all fours.

Having spent the last 15 years of his career as a military working dog handler and trainer, working alongside "man's best friend" is just another day on the job for Tech. Sgt. David Reavis, 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron kennel master.

Now serving on his eighth deployment, this is the first time the Aberdeen, Md. native, is without his own K-9 partner and working in more of a leadership role over all the military working dog teams here downrange.

"I ensure all the dog teams are properly employed and utilized for the protection of all base personnel and resources 24 hours, seven days a week," he said.

As the kennel master, Sergeant Reavis procures all the equipment and supplies for the MWD section and ensures the proper care of all assigned K-9s.

"I prepare and update duty schedules, provide the U.S. Air Forces Central Command MWD program manager a monthly status report, coordinate veterinarian care for all dogs and provide guidance for MWD utilization during increased force protection conditions and special events," he said. "I also ensure the handlers are knowledgeable of their assigned duties and responsibilities; and prepare operating instructions, checklists and additional guidance to leadership on MWD issues."

The NCO also maintains a section training program for all assigned MWD teams and conducts routine team evaluations.

"I act as primary custodian for the MWD explosives account and perform monthly inventory with munitions personnel, order replacement training aids when required and submit explosives forecasts for the MWD training aids," he said. "I also review monthly training and utilization records for accuracy; and I maintain the section's file plan.

The 15-year Air Force veteran, deployed from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., said with all his position entails, each day in the USAFCENT area of responsibility brings something new and comes with its own share of challenges.

"There isn't a typical day for me here," he said. "Every day is different. I do certain recurring tasks on certain days of the week such as going to meetings, preparing MWD status reports, reviewing MWD utilization records, ordering dog food and facility supplies and developing a monthly work schedule. Then there are things I do every day such as conduct kennel inspections, check the food status and feeding chart, check on facility supplies, conduct post checks on all MWD posts and patrols, evaluate detection and patrol training sessions, and update the vehicle tracker from the vehicle search areas."

With so much to do, the NCO admitted there are certain highlights of his job and some tasks that have proven to be a challenge.

"I really enjoy working on deficiency areas that require additional training for the dog, handler, or both as a team," he said. "We use positive and negative reinforcement and punishment to shape and achieve the desirable behavior from our dogs."

"The most challenging aspect of my job is dealing with all the different personalities while still providing a positive working environment whenever issues arise."

While Sergeant Reavis , an Aberdeen High School, Md., graduate, is no stranger to deployments, doing multiple stints in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, he said each trip downrange brings its share of unique experiences and memories.

"The highlight in all my deployments is the people I meet and who I have the pleasure of working with; knowing that we are all contributing to the operation we're involved in," he said.

Sergeant Reavis said he is thankful for the opportunity to be the kennel master the last five months, but he is looking forward to getting back home to his two sons.

"I understand the obligation of deploying and I'm committed to step up whenever I'm tasked," he said. "But I have to admit it was easier before having my two boys. Being separated from family is the hardest thing for all involved."