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K9 honored for years dedicated to service

Military Working Dog Oxigen receives a certificate of Meritorious Service Nov. 30, 2017, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Oxigen retired after eight years of dedicated military service as a patrol explosive detection dog. She devoted more than 207 hours conducting explosive sweeps, U.S. Secret Service support and Department of State coverage for multiple dignitaries. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Whitney Laine)

Military Working Dog Oxigen receives a certificate of Meritorious Service Nov. 30, 2017, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Oxigen retired after eight years of dedicated military service as a patrol explosive detection dog. She devoted more than 207 hours conducting explosive sweeps, U.S. Secret Service support and Department of State coverage for multiple dignitaries. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Whitney Laine)

Maj. Cameron Maher, 92nd Security Forces Squadron commander, initiates the ceremonial act of the passing of the leash from Staff Sgt. Justin Benfer, 92nd SFS kennel master, to the new owner, Staff Sgt. Thomas Newman, 92nd SFS Military Working Dog handler, during MWD Oxigen’s retirement ceremony Nov. 30, 2017, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Oxigen was adopted by her last handler, Newman, after eight years of service. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Whitney Laine)

Maj. Cameron Maher, 92nd Security Forces Squadron commander, initiates the ceremonial act of the passing of the leash from Staff Sgt. Justin Benfer, 92nd SFS kennel master, to the new owner, Staff Sgt. Thomas Newman, 92nd SFS Military Working Dog handler, during MWD Oxigen’s retirement ceremony Nov. 30, 2017, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Oxigen was adopted by her last handler, Newman, after eight years of service. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Whitney Laine)

Military Working Dog Oxigen sits beside Staff Sgt. Thomas Newman, 92nd Security Forces Squadron MWD handler, following her retirement ceremony Nov. 30, 2017, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Newman was Oxigen’s third and final handler during her last two years of service. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Whitney Laine)

Military Working Dog Oxigen sits beside Staff Sgt. Thomas Newman, 92nd Security Forces Squadron MWD handler, following her retirement ceremony Nov. 30, 2017, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Newman was Oxigen’s third and final handler during her last two years of service. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Whitney Laine)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Military Working Dog Oxigen retired after eight years of service during a ceremony at the Red Morgan Center, Nov. 30.

The 92nd Security Forces Squadron recognized Oxigen for distinguishing herself as a patrol explosive detection dog at Fairchild from June 2012 to November 2017.

“The MWD retirement ceremony shows respect and recognizes the years the MWD has dedicated to their country,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Benfer, 92nd SFS kennel master. “They are service members just like us, have served their time and deserve a ceremony to honor their commitment to their country.”

During the ceremony, Oxigen received a certificate of Meritorious Service and a letter of appreciation from Maj. Cameron Maher, 92nd SFS commander, for her devotion to duty during a critical time in America’s history.

Oxigen was also recognized by the reading of the poem “Guardians of the Night,” a military tradition since the Vietnam War. To cement Oxigen’s retirement, the traditional passing of the leash was conducted to symbolize her transformation from active duty to retirement.

During the passing of the leash, the kennel master relinquishes control of the MWD to the new owner. Oxigen was adopted by her last handler, Staff Sgt. Thomas Newman, 92nd SFS MWD handler.

“We are told not to treat the dog like a human, but when it comes down to it, she is my best friend,” Newman said. “We have worked side-by-side for two years and have formed a really close bond.”

While serving, Oxigen was assigned to three different handlers in support of various North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Department of Defense operational missions. She dedicated more than 207 hours conducting explosive sweeps, United States Secret Service support and Department of State coverage for multiple dignitaries.

Additionally, Oxigen executed more than 2,500 random antiterrorism measures, safeguarding 26,000 military and civilian personnel, supporting law enforcement, security and integrated defense missions.

“Military working dogs allow us to effectively accomplish our job, enforce our standards and the law to ensure everyone is complying with what is needed for the mission,” Benfer said.