UNDISCLOSED LOCATION -- The U.S. Air Force is the most technologically advanced fighting force in the history of the world. However, some of the sensors used to defend technology and people here date back to the Stone Age: the noses of military working dogs.
“Dogs’ noses are instinctively more sensitive than that of humans, and therefore have a more acute sense of smell,” said Staff Sgt. Tanya Martinez, 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron dog handler and native of Albuquerque, N.M. “A human may smell a hamburger on a grill, but the dogs may be able to detect even the slightest trace of ingredients from a distance.”
Military working dogs are generally trained in explosive detection, narcotics investigation and patrolling, and training continues every day they are here, said Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Fowler, 379th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron kennel master and native of Nanticoke, Pa.
The dogs—deployed in six-month increments to the AOR—rely on their handlers to provide guidance on a daily basis, according to Fowler.
The dogs complete daily basic obedience training, tactical training, explosive detection training and patrolling with their handler to be able to sustain operations as the first line of defense for the base.
“The training never stops for the dog and its handler,” said Fowler, who is deployed from Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
During this daily training, the dogs and their handlers have a chance to build a unique working relationship.
“The best part about the job is bonding with the dogs,” said Martinez.
The handlers feed their dogs, train them and patrol with them. Because of the amount of time invested in the dogs, the relationship between dogs and their handlers is strong.
“When out on shift, it’s not unusual to spend the entire day with just the dog and handler together,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Durham, who is a native of Eugene, Ore. “You get to love your dog.”
Martinez agreed, adding that the job is very rewarding.
“Every day I come to work and spend my time with other dog lovers,” said Martinez. “We get to go out, take care of the dogs and get the mission accomplished.”
This work, Cold, wet sensors: Dogs have nose for defense, by 2nd Lt. Nathanael Callon, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.