War dog from birth: Fairchild gets K-9 from DOD breeding program

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Taylor Curry
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
If a child is raised into military life, that child is considered a military brat. So, what is it called when a military working dog is born into the military?

The 92nd Security Forces Squadron is home to eight military working dogs, all of which went through the Dog Training School at Joint Base San Antonio/Lackland, Texas, but a certain Belgian malinois is a bit different from the rest of the pack.

Uutah was born at JBSA/Lackland as part of the Department of Defense's Military Working Dog Breeding Program, often referred to as the Puppy Program. At seven months old, the puppies in the program go through training that determines if they possess the attributes to become a working dog. If the pup passes, they must go through the Dog Training School, which is the "basic training" for most MWD's.

"In this course, the canines are trained for detection of explosives or illegal contraband," said Tech. Sgt. Levi Wilson, 92nd Security Forces Squadron MWD kennel master. "Once a dog is trained in a specific field, such as searching for explosives, they stay in that field."

Uutah is the newest military working dog, in terms of experience, assigned to 92nd SFS.

"He went through a rigorous training program when he went through the course, and we continued his training when we got him," Wilson said. "We were very lucky getting Uutah because he's a dog with a high drive and commitment towards his job."

After receiving Uutah, his training advanced by putting him into different scenarios and training exercises that includes bite work, where a handler dawns a protective bite suit acting as an aggressor and the dog is sent to subdue them. In the last eight months here, he has excelled quickly, showing determination on the "confidence course," an obstacle course designed to keep the canine's skills above the bar, Wilson added.

"Uutah has come a long way in the short time he's been at Fairchild," said Tech. Sgt. Jose Cadena, 92nd Security Forces Squadron MWD handler. "He's a very talented dog. For example, he can quickly pick up a suspicious odor even if it's hidden in a ceiling 10 feet high."

Uutah has some special characteristics, for instance, his name. The double letter U in his name means he was both born and raised at JBSA/Lackland for the purpose of becoming a war dog.

Another interesting detail about Uutah is the tattoo in his ear. This tattoo is for identification purposes and includes the whelp-series the canine was born into, represented by one letter and three digits.

"The tattoo in the dog's ear can be referred to as the "dog tag" for the K-9," Wilson said. "It's kind of like the dogs social security number and is used to keep the dog accountable. It can also be used to determine the approximate age of the dog. For example, if the letter in the sequence is T, that means the dog came into the MWD program in 2012."

The average time in service for a MWD ranges from 10-12 years.

"We work with the dogs day-in and day-out," said Staff Sgt. Justin Benfer, 92nd Security Forces Squadron MWD handler. "The longer you train with them, the stronger the bond. Some handlers come in on their off duty time just to train with their partner and get that bond even stronger. Coming to work and training with your dog feels very rewarding."

Canines have been used in warfare throughout history supporting combat operations dating back to 55 B.C. Their dedication and loyalty has been an asset to the United States military armed services and will forever reflect in the hard work displayed by the MWD handler.

"Uutah's good at bite work and detection of odors and naturally adapts faster than other types of dogs," Wilson said. "He's just a great all-around war dog."