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MWD retires at age 9

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ariel Owings
  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

Earlier this year, the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst K-9 team retired one of their military working dogs, Kira, during a barbecue after six years of service.

Whelped in Feb. 2011, the 9-year-old deployed several times along with multiple U.S. Secret Service missions during her six years stationed at Joint Base MDL. Kira worked as a duel MWD with the titles Patrol dog and Explosive Detector dog.

Handling her for a short nine months, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicholas Gray, 325th Security Forces Squadron MWD handler assigned to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, traveled back to Joint Base MDL for the celebration where Kira was gifted a steak as a symbol of her retirement.

“Being able to bond with her in such a short time was a [unique] experience,” said Gray. “She was misunderstood and feared for how intense she was. Others just didn’t [have the patience] to take the time to get to know her.”

During her service, Kira was Gray’s second K-9. This was his first time handling a duel MWD and was one of the more difficult K-9s to train.

“Dogs like her can be hard because they have this misconception of them,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Caitlin Bourque, 87th SFS MWD handler. “They go throughout their career feared because they come off differently toward other people. When you get a handler that takes their time and they have the patience to understand that dog, you get to see that bond and see a different side of her. Gray is fearless as a handler so I can see why [he] and Kira were matched perfectly together.”

Gray explains how Kira’s behavior completely changed once she was retired. He believes the change is due to her being removed from the high-stress work environment and placed in a family home where she is allowed to relax.

“When she was in the kennels, she would crunch her face almost like she was frowning,” said Gray. “The first night I brought her home, you could tell from her facial reaction that she was completely relaxed. She was on cloud nine.”

During the barbecue, Bourque shared how when Kira was brought out, everyone was watching her to see what she would do and Kira was watching them back. She ate the steak within ten seconds and was ready to go home.

“I didn’t even watch her chew,” said Bourque. “She was just happy to be retired and as soon as the steak was gone, she walked outside to Gray’s car and hopped in the passenger seat like she was ready to go.”

After the celebration, Gray immediately adopted Kira and brought her home to Tyndall AFB where she will live out the rest of her life as a normal house pet.