Off the leash

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- It is said that dogs are man’s best friend; military working dogs take that role very seriously. Working in conjunction with their handlers, they deter crime in a multitude of ways: from detecting bombs and narcotics, to catching the bad guys.

These dogs are specially trained for their missions, even before they go to their first duty station.

"Our dogs come from a variety of places. They're either purchased or bred and go through obedience training at Lackland starting out as puppies,” said Staff Sgt. Rena Bissett, 18th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler.

Not only do these canines go through special training before they get to start conducting real-life operations, their partners have to learn just how military working dogs get accomplish the mission.

"The MWD program is a lateral training in our career field. We can apply for the school and, if we're picked up, go back to Lackland for around three months of training in things like patrolling, searching buildings and basic care for the canines," said. Staff Sgt. Dylan Finch, 18th SFS MWD handler. “Any time a MWD handler gets assigned a new canine, they get a few weeks to build rapport with them. Walks, fetch, and just playing with them all help build a strong relationship between the handler and the dog."

Occasionally the dogs get a chance to team up with their human companion and show other members of the military, as well as civilians and Department of Defense employees, exactly what they can do.

"We demonstrate the 'Six Phases of Aggression,' as well as patrolling and protection. These demonstrations show our capabilities with the dogs as well as what's protecting them on a daily basis," said Bissett.

It the relationship between a military working dog and their handler is a deep and lasting bond, working together every day, ensuring the safety of all those they work so hard to protect.