FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. --
Members of the 92nd Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog section and their four-legged partners participated in UH-1N Huey training with the 36th Rescue Squadron, Nov. 21, here.
The training introduced the dogs to distractions and noise they may experience when boarding and flying in a helicopter in preparation for future deployments, and to prepare their K-9 handlers to be aware of their dogs’ reactions.
“The training familiarized the MWD teams with different platforms of travel they might encounter on deployments and overseas,” said Staff Sgt. Thomas Newman, 92nd SFS MWD handler. “It’s much better to fix a problem the dog and handler have in training rather than encounter it for the first time when failure isn’t an option.”
For newer handlers who lack this kind of experience, the training was enlightening.
“It was an eye opener; it gave me a lot to think about and see the things I need to train with [my dog] on,” said Senior Airman Bethany Ray, MWD handler, who worked with her dog Lili. “She was very nervous at first, but as soon as I reached back and put my hand on her, she calmed down and laid down.”
Ray has been a MWD handler for about six months and her position was the entire reason she chose the security forces career field. Her training on the helicopter was just another reason to love the job.
“I have never been in a helicopter, so I was really looking forward to it,” Ray added. “It was neat to see how they did everything, see how my dog reacted to it and what I need to do for her if we ever have to be in one again.”
Military Working Dogs deploy overseas just like Airmen do and have a job to do. Training the MWDs to ride in helicopters is just as important as training the handlers, or any other passengers.
“The duties these MWD are doing when deployed varies from location, but any MWD team could be picked up by a special forces team or any unit overseas in need of a dog team, like the Secret Service, Army Rangers or infantry units,” Newman said. “The bond between a MWD and its handler is the most important thing to the team; you are that dog’s mom or dad, they depend on you and you depend on them.”
It is quite literally about depending on each other in life and death situations and without that bond the team can fail, Newman added.