ABILENE, Texas - We honor our men and women in the armed forces, but how often do we honor the military working dogs beside them?
Military working dogs, or MWDs, serve an essential purpose to all branches in the military. They take about four months to train and are dispersed around the world.
On Dyess Air Force Base, the dogs are trained to detect explosives and narcotics.
"We disrupt, delay and detect anything that comes onto the installation, so that's what we're used for," said Sgt. Thomas Castillo, Dyess kennel master.
Castillo said once they are in combat, the MWDs are treated like fellow airmen.
"The dogs aren't a machine," Castillo said. "The dogs get tired just like humans do. We rely a lot on their nose, so it's up to the handler to determine, ‘Hey, we got to take a break now and let the dog re-energize itself before we keep going.' Because you can work for two hours, but if the dog is tired you're working for nothing."
Combat and training aren't the only job responsibilities for the dogs, they also get tasked to do some interesting assignments. For example, two dogs escorted Vice President Joe Biden to the World Cup.
"During their stay in Brazil, they were able to search the whole stadium," Castillo said. "… They got to sit in the tunnel while the US scored the first goal of that game, so it was pretty cool."
When it comes to looking after the MWDs, their handlers are their primary caregivers. They clip the dog's nails, give canine CPR and detect canine post-traumatic stress disorder.