In Loving Memory
MWD DDAMIEN D214, USN
MWD Ddamien D214, USN
Patrol/ Explosive Detector Dog
Commander Navy Region Southwest
OCT 1999- 26SEP12
This is the one who started it All..
9 Deployments, Diagnosed with PTSD in 2007. He was a legend when I went through Handlers Course in 2007.
The Devil Dog of San Diego.
Supposedly had to be fed with a squeegee under his door... If you yelled loose dog and he was it, handlers ran for it, locking themselves in rooms, jumping on top of kennels. After his return from his last deployment in 2010, his career was over. He retired in October of 2010.
Ddamien and I became friends in early 2010 after he came home from his last deployment and his last handler was getting ready to transfer. Someone had to take care of him, and it ended up being me. When it came time for him to go home, I received a phone call from our Army Veterinarian asking me to consider bringing him home. The Navy was going to let one of the most infamous dogs retire, and they were going to let me bring him home.
He was a joy to me for the next 2 years, and although he never wanted to socialize with anyone other than myself, he spent every day with me at home, horse shows and even foal watch!
MWD DOKY M145, USN
MWD Doky M145, USN
Patrol/ Explosive Detector Dog
Commander Navy region Southwest
NOV 2006 - 03NOV19
He served at CNRSW San Diego, and NAS Fallon Nevada. He retired in 2014.
Doky was renowned for his fear aggressive behavior, never quite adapting to the Navy way of life. He did his job, was loved by some handlers, feared by others.
He had a long faught battle with Cancer, being diagnosed in February 2017 with a Soft Tissue Sarcoma up in his ilium wing. Thanks to the US War Dog Association, we rushed him to New Jersey to RedBank Veterinary Hospital for an MRI and possible treatment. After getting a poor prognosis for any surgical options, we were sent to RedBanks partner outside of Philadelphia for what was going to be his first round of palliative radiation treatment.
After coming home, we had to do a second round of radiation in September of 2017 at the California Veterinary Specialist hospital.
He spent his days howling at his Harry Potter Audio books, playing in his kiddie pool, and watching the Mountains. He un-stuffed his bed almost every night and I would re-stuff it in the morning.
He was an amazing, sensitive dog that is very missed.
MWD KIRA JO80, USN
MWD Kira J080, USN
Patrol/Explosive Detector Dog
JAN 2003 - 09FEB18
Kira served with the TSA before becoming too much dog for the Airports and ended up in the Navy instead. Her first duty station was at NSA Bahrain in 2007. She also served in Naples Italy, and Everett Washington before being retired in 2012.
She was my MWD from 2007-2009, the first to certify her in the fleet. She was a notorious MWD in the kennel, letting very few people other than her handler do anything with her. She kept that same bad attitude at all of her kennels. She was also the best partner I was ever assigned.
Kira was a fantastic friend for MWD Barri F388 for over a year and a half before he passed, then Kira befriended the ever-happy MWD Baiky H203 until his passing. We were able to introduce her to another pair of friends - MWD Rocky and MWD Zorro, you could find them all napping together, or better yet, watch Zorro guide the pair of really old dogs around the yard. She would go with me anywhere I went doing yard work, loved rotisserie chicken, and she forever carried her Cuz ball, from her time with me in Bahrain, until she passed away.
I will always remember her sitting in the back of the Suburban, in an open vari kennel that I would help her up into, and she would have her Cuz ball in her mouth, just watching the world go by, happy as could be like she was on watch.
MWD TIMMY C229, USN
MWD Timmy C229, USN
Explosive Detector Dog
SEP 1999 -01 OCT 2009
Timmy was my friend's first partner when we arrived together in Bahrain in August of 2007. During the STAAT inspection in December 2007, it was decided that Timmy didn't have the necessary drive to remain active duty. My friend was still living in the barracks at the time, and couldn't take him home, so I was asked to adopt him. He came home in December of 2008.
There was never a kinder, sweeter dog. He was great with other animals, loved people, loved car rides. One of his favorite things to do when he got back stateside was to go to Home Depot, and sweep all the cars on our way in. He slept in the back of my knees every night, and loved to sleep in the hay during the day.
Timmy was truly an amazingly, loving dog.
MWD BARRY F055, USN
MWD Barry F055, USN,
Patrol/ Drug Detector Dog,
Commander Navy Region Southwest,
MAR 2001 - 09 AUG 2014
Black Barry was retired from CNRSW San Diego CA in OCT 2012.
He was what was called a "dirty dog" active duty, known for not liking anyone other than his handler. He liked to keep everyone else at a distance when his handler was with him (one of the reasons there is a 15' rule around MWD's when they are working). He had quite the temperament.
Barry was invited to be part of the Orange County ASPCA walk and was a fantastic lead dog at his first public event.
He is also Featured in the beautiful book "Working Like A Dog"
He was a happy, sweet dog in retirement. He loved to walk out with the horses in the evening during feeding times, or if we had a long night out when one was sick. Barry also enjoyed going out for wagon rides up and down the road when his hind legs began to weaken as he aged.
He made friends with our resident Great Dane, Riddick, and even the cats in the house.
MWD BARRI F388, USN
MWD Barri F388, USN
Patrol/ Explosive Detector Dog
Commander Navy Region Southwest
MAR 2002 - 10 MAY 2016
Brown Barri, or "Shady Barri" came to us from CNRSW San Diego in DEC 2012.
He was notorious for looking like he wanted you to pet him, then he would nail you. Definitely had to be careful when this big boy was out!
He waited a very long time in the kennel, waiting on a home that never came. When he came home with us, he began to blossom and grow, finding that destroying feed bags, and playing in the kiddie pool was just the coolest life ever.
He retired amazingly and had his first longtime girlfriend with MWD Kira. He was her best friend until the very end. Where one went, the other was right there.
He is also featured in the Beautiful Book "Working like A Dog"
MWD YAGO N289, USN
MWD Yago N289, USN
Patrol/ Drug Detector Dog
JAN 2008 - 18 JUN 2016 GSD
Yago came to us from Port Hueneme/NBVC in AUG 2015.
He had a hard battle to retire from the military because of his strong bite work training being one of the top dogs on the West Coast, and that fight to save him would go on to help save the lives of several MWD's after him. Not only did his kennel master step up to save him, but so did his Security officer and even Commanding Officer.
Yago was also with Commander Navy Region Southwest for some time in his early days before being relocated to NBVC. He had some significant medical issues that caused his early retirement, and they ultimately led to his passing the following year. With assistance from Mission K9 Rescue, he was hospitalized in intensive care doing everything we could do to save him for a week before his body finally succumbed to Kidney failure.
He was an amazing dog, full of fun and life. His favorite toy was the indestructible ball that he would spend all day herding around if you let him. Yago just wanted to run and play and see what he could do to get you to chase him.
He was expressive, and happy, ALL the time. He is so very much missed.
MWD BAIKY H203, USAF
MWD Baiky H203, USAF
Patrol/ Drug Detector Dog
MAY 2003 - 05 APR 2017 GSD
MWD Baiky came to us from Vandenburg AFB in OCT 2014.
He was Deaf, had a grumpy old man's temperament, and with his bite training, made him difficult to find a suitable home for.
He loved playing with the indestructible ball, helping feed the horses, and in his later days, he trucked around in his doggie wheelchair like a champ. He had LS disease, and it would be progressive.
He was always happy and enjoyed his time in the sun and the little patch of grass we have here in the desert mountains. You would find him trying to help with the wheelbarrow, biting down on one of the handles and pulling one way while I was trying to go the other.
Eventually he found himself as the new best friend with MWD Kira. It was always great to see the two of them sound asleep next to each other.
K9 THOR, BURBANK LE
DOB SEP 2003-17MAY 2016 GSD
K9 Thor had been an owner surrender at Veterinary Hosp in Central California. He had switched a few homes and his last home had been less then kind to him.
One of the wonderful vet techs at the hospital found out he was a Prior Police Dept dog and reached out to Mission K9 Rescue. They asked if we could go pick him up and eval him. He had some significant medical issues, having just been diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer, a nerve sheath tumor in his elbow that was already open from a bed sore. We were concerned that the long drive to Texas might be too much for him. We had a consult with an oncologist that week and due to his age and severity of the cancer and its location, he stayed with us as a hospice foster.
He was happy, fun and loved everyone. We set out on making him the best bucket list in San Diego, spending time at the beach, Naval Base Coronado, taking him to dog friendly restaurants, ice cream, and of course lots of toys!
His time with us was far too short, but he was very much loved.
MWD XXERXES K222, USMC
MWD Xxerxes K222, USMC,
Patrol/ Explosive Detector Dog,
21APR2005 - 20FEB2019
Xxerxes was stationed at MCAS Miramar until his retirement in JUN of 2018. At the time of his retirement, he was the oldest Active-Duty Marine Corps Military Working Dog in the World.
Xxerxes was one of the last dogs to deploy out of MCAS Miramar.
He was bred by Lackland Air Force Base as part of their DOD breeding Program.
He was lovingly referred to as the Hairball, he was like Fabio in a dog's body. He could hold a grudge like no one else could and was notorious for not liking a lot of people.
As soon as he retired, he turned into a whole different boy! He loved the cat, loved playing with other dogs, and even was good with the staff at the vet clinic! His dirty biting days were long behind him, and he spent most of his days carrying his ball around the yard, napping in the sun, and letting the wind rustle that amazing hair.
We lost Xxerxes suddenly just before his 14th birthday to a mass rupture on his spleen. Before he went into surgery, an ultrasound was done and multiple masses were found on his liver and in his abdomen, and he was humanely euthanized for suspected Hemangiosarcoma.
MWD OSCAR M163, USN
MWD Oscar M163, USN,
Patrol/Explosive Detector Dog
DEC 2006 - 25 JAN 2019 GSD
He was retired out of NAS Oceana, Virginia in MAY 2017.
He had at least one deployment to Iraq that we are aware of. He had a history of kidney disease and had been seeing a specialist for a mass on his spleen. His kennel had always referred to him as the grumpy old man, even when he got to the kennel as a two-year-old!
Oscar was one of our MWD's that enjoyed going out to Agape Ranch Dog Sports for Dock Diving.
His first time at the pool he beat me down the ramp and swam off and jumped off the dock his first day there!
He enjoyed his kiddie pool and playing with GoughNuts. We have a Woof Project Alum, Helo, that became Oscar's friend that he always shared a kennel or play yard next to.
One of his favorite things was to bring me his toy, try to get me to take it, then hold onto it with his front paws.
We lost him to a post operation blood clot a week after emergency surgery.
MWD ZORRO P793, USAF
MWD Zorro P793, USAF
Patrol/ Explosive Detector Dog
JUL 2009 - 31OCT2019
Zorro retired from Edwards Air Force Base in JUL 2016 due to hip dysplasia and vision issues. He was humanely euthanized when he suddenly became very ill overnight, and the specialist found a mass in the heart from suspected Hemangiosarcoma.
He had one deployment to Afghanistan before retiring.
His handler that deployed with him had the chance to see him when we went back to Edwards AFB for several Feed The Dawgs events.
He participated in the Valley Center Western Days Parade, and he had a fantastic time! He loved watching TV, napping in his favorite leather chair and spending time with MWD Kira and MWD Rocky. And also loved chasing the cats.
Zorro was the first Retired Military Working Dog to earn an invite to Nationals with North America Diving Dogs, after earning his Advanced Title in the Junior Distance Division. He had a huge fan club at Agape Ranch Dog Sports where he trained.
MWD BRUCE P033, USN
MWD Bruce P033, USN, Explosive Detector Dog, GSD
OCT 2007 - 23DEC 2019
Bruce was part of a Government contract gone pretty bad. Long story short of it, he ended up with 24 other dogs at Commander Navy Region Southwest in 2009 emaciated, with giardia and high anxiety. Several months of attempts to get him able to work again ended up to no avail. He was retired out of the program in March of 2010.
Several years later, at the ripe old age of 7 he earned his IPO1 title. He was an outstanding tracking dog and loved bite work.
He completely retired from dog sport in 2015 and enjoyed doing bark and holds at our window waiting for meals, roughhousing with his great dane rescue brother Trooper, and visiting everyone at Miramar VTF. He had a huge supportive group at the San Diego Schutzhund Club. He also survived a very scary rattlesnake bite in 2015, and his friends at Mission K9 call him "Snake Bite".
Bruce had to undergo spinal decompression surgery in June of 2019 for issues from an extra vertebrae. He went to physical therapy once a week at Tsavo's Canine Rehabilitation and Fitness to ensure we were giving him the best quality of life we can. Unfortunately, it was suspected that he began to exude more disk material in December 2019, and it was decided that another surgery was not going to be an option for Bruce because of the poor prognosis.
Bruce was my shadow, with my on transports for rescue, at work, and would even sleep right on top of me. I would wake up with him almost nose to nose with me.
Loosing him was like loosing a part of my soul.
MWD LUCKY N328, USN
MWD Lucky N328, USN
Patrol/ Explosive Detector Dog, Belgian Malinois
06 APR 2007 - 22 MAY 2020
MWD Lucky was retired from Naval Base San Diego officially on 25FEB2020. He had just arrived in San Diego right before I got there in August of 2009. Lucky just so happened to be kenneled right next to my own MWD Talpi N183.
MWD Lucky was always an intense dog, loved to work, and just the embodiment of how a working dog should be. He either liked you or he didn't, and usually just preferred being with his handler.
While active duty, he had 2 deployments- Honduras and Afghanistan, plus multiple temporary assigned duty's for Secret Service missions.
Lucky had actually been sent home early to us in DEC2019, while awaiting his retirement package approval because of a serious medical condition that developed with his blood pressure. Although his CT scan did not give us any answers, his medical team found a good regiment of medication that he will be on for life that has been very effective in getting him stable, and letting him be a happy, bouncy retired working dog.
His favorite activities included napping on the thickest bed he can find and running around the yard for no reason.
MWD Lucky suddenly became very sick on 13MAY2020. Even after an extensive work up at the Specialty Hospital, and being hospitalized for a week, we lost Lucky to what we believe was cancer in his chest. He is greatly missed by his kennel, his handlers, and very much by us.
MWD ROCKY H353
MWD Rocky H353, USAF
Patrol/Explosive Detector Dog, Belgian Malinois
01 SEP 2003 - 27 JUL 2020
MWD Rocky came to us as a foster from Mission K9 Rescue in SEP 2016. He retired from Goodfellow AFB in APR 2014. He had multiple deployments while on active duty.
Rocky was very much loved by his last handler and his family who Rocky retired with originally, but Rocky had a hard time adjusting to children in the household. A friend of the family had then taken Rocky in initially, but after some time, Rocky's last handler took him back in an emergency.
We got the call around 5 in the morning asking if we could drive to Arizona and pick him up. Rocky came to us with some medical issues that needed worked up, and after staying with us a few months and due to his age, we decided to be his forever foster!
He was best friends with MWD Kira and MWD Zorro, and now that they have passed, Rocky has recently made new friends with several of the house dogs, including MWD Talpi N183, and MWD Rudy M436. He enjoys stealing toys from his roommates and playing with all the toys he can find. Occasionally you will still find him running along the dog yards harassing the other dogs.
Rocky made a complete recovery from an anal mass removal when he was 14, and from a small mass they found near his heart that seems to have disappeared.
Turning 16 last September, and he is one of the oldest retired Military Working Dogs! They say the ornery ones live forever...
We always sent his handler's family updates regularly, and we got them to let them visit with him whenever possible.
MWD RUDY M436, USAF
MWD Rudy M436, USAF
Patrol/ Explosive Detector Dog
DOB 24 MAR 2007 - 26 DEC 2020 GSD
He served at JBMDL until his retirement on 19FEB2019.
MWD Rudy unfortunately came to us with some behavioral and medical issues that limited his ability to find a suitable home. He has issues with his thyroid, Gallbladder issues and Grade III heart murmur.
Since coming to us in February, MWD Rudy has been to the California Veterinary Specialist several times to make sure we have his medical conditions well in hand. Thanks to amazing care and follow ups from his Army Veterinary Dr at JBMDL, we have made a great transition to retired life for MWD Rudy, and he has been received outstanding reviews from his Cardiologist and his Internal Medicine doctors.
Unfortunately, in December of 2019, a large mass suddenly appeared on a hind leg, and the diagnosis was a very aggressive Soft Tissue Sarcoma. After his CT scan, and speaking with several Veterinarians, specialists, his last active-duty Veterinarian, and his last handler, we made the difficult decision to have the leg amputated in January.
We were very thankful that Rudy had adjusted brilliantly to being a tripod! He was running on his own, playing with other dogs in the household, and showing no signs of slowing down within a couple weeks.
Rudy had moved into retired life like a super star, always excited to go play ball or go for a car ride and is extremely photogenic! He enjoyed long naps on his favorite super puffy bed and bouncing around the yard. His very renowned bad attitude at the vet clinic for his checkups had now turned into cookie times and he had been complimented by the staff he has worked with.
Rudy started physical therapy at Tsavos Canine Rehabilitation Center to help keep his back healthy and his remaining leg strong. He LOVED swimming in the pool and went twice a week.
Rudy had the chance to accompany our Woof Project Foster Fail Helo to our first Regional Invite for Dock Diving, and after we took a great road trip to the Grand Canyon!
A mass was found in Rudy's mouth in October 2020 that was very suspicious, and he was rushed into an oral surgeon to have it removed. it did come back as an Oral Melanoma, so he was immediately started on a radiation protocol. He did very well for his 6 treatments, even with having to be sedated for each one.
Just when we thought Rudy had fought off the worst possible medical issues, on Christmas evening in 2020, Rudy had his first seizure. By 0200 in the morning of the 26th, the ER staff could not get the seizures under control, and we had to let him go.
MWD OOBAMA R270, USMC
MWD Oobama R270, USMC
Patrol/Explosive Detector Dog
DOB 12 DEC 2009 - 12 JAN2021
MWD Oobama is from Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany (MCLB Albany), in Albany, GA. If you did not know, the double "O" at the beginning of his name lets us know he was a Lackland AFB bred dog!
Oobama (who is known as Oobie-wan now) had been in the disposition process for over a year now, with medical issues that included a torn ACL. After being sent back to Lackland AFB for a TPLO surgery, and an extensive attempt at rehabbing his hind right leg, he was also developing mouth ulcers and what ended up being diagnosed as CUPS (Chronic Ulcerative Paradental Stomatitis).
He was not responding to treatment as everyone had hoped, and they couldn't find a prior handler that was going to be able to take on the high veterinary bills that were probably going to be needed for his care. It did not help that Oobie had an infamous personality that did not endear him to several Marines, especially over his food pan.
The wonderful Captain from Fort Benning reached out to us to see if we would have room and be willing to bring Oobie into the program.
We discussed his medical needs and expectations, and for the first time in 10 years, MCLB Albany adopted out an MWD to someone that was not a prior handler to that kennel.
Because of COVID, I made the crazy drive from San Diego (rather suddenly), with a quick stop in Houston to pick up 2 co-pilots from Mission K9 Rescue and drove to Albany, Georgia and back in 5 days! Oobie received a great little retirement ceremony from his new command, and on the road, we went!
He had an apportionment with my regular vet within the week to see what we could do to get his mouth feeling better. My vet reached out to a few of her friends, veterinarians that had already been working on his case, and we prepared to remove several, if not most of his teeth. Within the week it took to get him in for a surgery day, we noticed some significant changes to his mouth and lymph nodes. By surgery day, we ran bloodwork and did x-rays first, and it confirmed we were dealing with may more than the CUPS. We were sent directly to the specialty hospital.
2 weeks later, and multiple biopsies later, consults with 2 oncologists and a surgeon, MWD Oobama was diagnosed with Cutaneous Epitheliotropic Lymphoma.
He had started his first round of CCNU chemotherapy, and he was put back on his prednisone at a higher dose. Within a couple days of chemo, it was obvious that the CCNU was not going to work. I thought we were going to lose him that week, and his Oncologist asked to try one more time, and Oobie was started on the CHOP protocol. By the 4th weel of treatment, Oobie was in remission, and he was called the miracle dog at the vet hospital.
Unfortunately, Oobie fell out of remission the first week of December 2020. We attempted 2 more rescue protocols, but it was not going to be enough. We would have to say good-bye to him a month later.
We loved him very much, and he had surprised us with how well he had taken to life on the farm, with no signs of his dirty temperament from his active-duty days.
Oobie had the most amazing bucket list, from ice cream, a roads trip to San Francisco, a night a Big Bear Lake to see snow, a special trip to the Big Bear Lake Zoo, Oliver's Emporium in Big Bear made special arrangements for his own chance to shop at their store, an 11th birthday party in Thousand Oaks with a stay in the hotel and biggest stuffed animal ever...
MWD DONA1 P037, USN
MWD Dona1 P037, USN
Explosive Detector Dog
DOB AUG 2007 - 09 FEB 2021 GSD
MWD Dona1 was retired from CNRSW San Diego CA. She was part of the same Government contract that went bad as MWD Bruce P033. Unlike Bruce, she thrived in her detection work, but it did come at a cost.
She had serious outing issues but had super drive and a brilliant nose.
Her and I spent a lot of time after my knee injury, just hanging out in her kennel, do ball and food exchanges for her reward, trying to find a way around the outing problem while she was waiting to be picked up by her first handler.
Over the years, she grew pretty resentful and dirty with a lot of people, and if she didn't like you, you knew it.
She would be brought into the vet clinic, and the young new handlers would come in asking for me and saying they were supposed to have me pull her from the unit. She was always so very good for me.
When her first and longtime handler had to move away, I promised that I would always watch out for her, and make sure she had a place to go if he couldn't take her.
We got that call in 2017, and it took a lot of work to get her retired from the kennel, but I had some great people behind us, helping us make sure she made it to retirement. She came home to us the week of Thanksgiving in 2017.
And she retired so well. She would spend her days napping, playing with her cuz balls, or chasing and herding her indestructiball around and around. She really enjoyed hunting for the house cats whenever she had the chance.
Her body finally gave into the chronic issues that she retired with.
She is going to be very much missed and will be very much loved.
I love you Nana-bonana... so much...
MK9 Egon- A,
Mexico City, Mexico,
Law Enforcement Drug Detector Dog
DOB 01 JAN 2009 - 22 OCT 2021
Egon-A was one of the most infamous drug dogs to work in Mexico City, Mexico, with one of the largest bounties ever heard of on a working dogs head (rumored to have been over $50,000 USD). It's a testimony to his brilliant nose and work ethic.
Egon came to us in February of 2018 from Mission K9 Rescue as a Medical foster. Fresh from Mexico, he came with some unexpected medical issues, and his kennel aggression issues were going to give someone a run for their money. We had a kennel available, and we took him in to get him started on his way to a forever home.
Egon ended up in the hospital within a couple of days for an emergency neuter for a massively enlarged prostate and the inability to urinate. It was a chronic issue that would leave him with a lifelong medical condition. At the time of the emergency neuter, there was a mass found in his airway. After a successful neuter, 2 months later Mission K9 had him back in to remove the mass (found to be scar tissue) that was causing him to vomit regularly and led us to give him the nickname of Darth Vader with his rough breathing. It also had been contributing to his inability to gain weight.
After having Egon here for post op recovery for 6 months, we decided that we could find a way to keep Egon here permanently. With his ongoing medical care, and his unique temperament, finding a suitable home was going to be difficult.
Egon enjoyed digging holes in the yard to nap in, chewing on his Kong Bones, and getting dry cat food as cookies. He also felt that destroying dog beds was a fantastic hobby.
Once we arrived in Texas, Egon and I would take walks around the property, and he finally had the chance to roll and nap in the grass. It was the last thing we did before saying good-bye.
MWD TALPI N183, USN
MWD Talpi N183, USN
Explosive Detector Dog
DOB NOV 2007 - 09 NOV 2021 GSD
MWD Talpi was retired from CNRSW San Diego CA. I was the first to certify him in the fleet in 2009. He had two deployments to Djibouti, Africa (not with me). He was retired in May 2017 due to being a multi-time heat casualty affecting his ability to work for sufficient amount of time and arthritis.
How do you say good bye to one you have loved so much?
I was Talpi's first handler in the fleet at the end of August of 2009. He was ridiculous. Happy, playful, and the least serious dog ever. But he worked so well for me, and he was good. His nose anyway. Recall... well, not so much. This dog had a sense of humor.
We were together for 14 short months, before a horseback riding accident ended my working dog days. As I was Waiting for surgery, Talpi was assigned to another handler. I was pulling the Explosive kit alot then for the teams, but I couldn't even be in the building or be seen by Talpi, or he wouldn't work for his new handler.
I ended up at the vet clinic on base working as a vet tech, both active duty, then transitioned and stayed as a civilian, and I would get to see Talpi then. He would always run over, shake his head, and grab my arm with his mouth, and roll over on the floor. Every time.
He ended up coming to the vet clinic as a serious heat casualty, 3 different times. He survived, and continued working, until his last heat casualty, and he started showing signs of inability to work in the San Diego sun.
He had 2 deployments to Djibouti through his career, and multiple secret service missions. He came home to us on 15MAY2017. It was one of the best days ever. We called him our Ice Age Squirrel.
He enjoyed doing absolutely nothing at home. Talpi became the best friend ever to MWD Rudy M436, and they were always together. After losing Rudy, Talpi had decided his new job would be my sidekick, and he could almost always be found with me when I was on the road. He didn't want to do anything, just sleep, and get chicken nuggets.
You could usually find Talpi at public events for the Ddamien Project. The Herman Bennett Foundation knew him well, and he was much loved. He went to the Las Alamitos racetrack for Mission K9 Rescue, and that was so fun for him, they celebrated his birthday at the track! He did a great event at Big Bear Lake with Rose Ledgerwood, was able to attend the dedication of the Vietnam War Dog Memorial in Utah, where he met the Crismer Family. He was able to attend the USPS Stamp dedication when I was speaking at Camp Pendleton. He also had a chance to go with me to speak at a great even in LA with Mission K9 Rescue.
He also made the crazy long drive with me 2 different times on our search for a new home in Texas. Our wonderful realtor got stuck with me driving her around, just so Talpi could go!
Talpi loved the new home, and you would find him wobbling around the grass and to the trees, just to see how far he get without me chasing after him. I will never forget his infamous side eye, to see if I was watching, and then he would do the opposite of whatever I said. The head shake the prancing of his front feet while he did it.
I was there with him at the beginning. I was his first handler. He was my last MWD.
His job was to save lives, and mine, at the end, was to take his.
Its a mortal injury to the soul. I love you so much Talpi. In all of your beautiful ridiculousness.
The Rainbow Bridge has gained a brilliant dog with a sense of humor.
MWD MARK W118, USN
MWD Mark W118, USN
Patrol/ Explosive Detector Dog
DOB 11 SEP 2012 - 15 JUL 2022, GSD
He served at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Washinton DC until August 2021. He was medically retired.
MWD Mark W118 joined our family last August. His wonderful Veterinarian had reached out to us in hopes we could get Mark out of the kennels and offer him a home. His kennels had been looking everywhere to find a home for this big, handsome German Shepherd, to no avail.
Mark had been diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy, and he would be a hospice adoption. DM is progressive, with eventually needing a wheelchair, and in the future, fairly extensive care with making sure Mark was urinating and defecating properly, that would be a lot for most people. Typical lifespan after diagnosis is about 1.5 years, and that's hard to accept when bringing home a new dog.
Not in Mark's favor, was also his enjoyment of being animal aggressive. One of his favorite things is to harass dogs, cats and cows going by.
We were ready to make whatever time Mark had left the best we could.
After picking Mark up, and getting him fit into a Help Em Harness, he was loving life on the farm.
It is very important to maintain as much muscle as you can, so every day we took Mark on walks all over the property. There is a wonderful path in the woods at the back acre of our property, and we walked it every day, twice a day.
I also reached out to the United States War Dogs Association to see if we could enroll Mark not only into the prescription program but see if we could get Mark a wheelchair with their wheelchair program.
He was immediately accepted into both programs, and they sent Mark his fantastic camo wheelchair. He took to it immediately, as soon as he was hooked up, he took off like a crazy guy. Nothing stopped him. Chasing cats, running the fence to bark at the donkeys, trying to chase the cows that followed him on his walks... he was game to take on the world.
We took him to parks, took him for ice cream, and lots of car rides.
As the warm weather came in, we got him a stock tank pool to try to encourage more movement, and to give him a chance to be in a more natural position for blood flow and circulation.
In March of 2022, I took Mark down to Lackland AFB to the Military Working Dog Teams Monument for the K9 Veterans Day ceremony. I had the chance to meet his veterinarian that gave us this wonderful opportunity, and one of his handlers was there too! It was such a wonderful experience.
The DM started advancing very quickly in April. Our walks started getting shorter. He wasn't trying to use his hind feet anymore. By June his abdomen had started to weaken, and he was starting to not be able to pull himself around as well. By the beginning of July, I knew we were in trouble.
Mark had lost the strength and control of his front legs the first week of July. Some dogs still do well when they reach this point, and I wasn't going to make that decision for him yet. But by the end of that week, we knew that this was not the lifestyle he wanted to live.
We spent the next week and a half knocking out his Bucket List, going swimming in Beaver Bend Lake, going in his pool almost every day, and we made an unexpected trip to Lackland one more time so he could say goodbye to his handler, who even called one of his other handlers and got to FaceTime with him.
MWD Mark W118 leaves behind several handlers that loved him very much, and lots of friends. His last Kennel Master was always checking in on him.
He had at least one deployment to Djibouti, and the coolest deployment I have ever heard, a deployment to Ireland!
The emptiness I feel right now, knowing he isn't there to greet me with his crazy bark (it's a hoarse bark that sounds like he is saying Mark Mark Mark...) is numbing. You don't really know how much your life revolves around a dog until they are gone. And losing a dog that mentally is on point, but the body has failed is difficult to accept.
We will be putting up a sign naming the trail after him.
Thank you so much to the United States War Dog Association for their amazing support of MWD Mark through his retirement, To Military Working Dog Team Support Association, Inc. For the K9 Veterans Day care package he received,
And to The Heart Of Lucky for the wonderful care package as well.
I loved you so much old man. I wish I could have done more. It was an honor to be the last chapter of your story.
Thank you to all of our supporters that have been part of Mark's journey
CWD PEPPA, VAPOR WAKE
CWD Peppa, Vapor Wake
Explosive Detector Dog
DOB 17 SEP 2016 - 04 MAY 2022
Peppa came to us just before Thanksgiving last year. She had been recently diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer, Lymphangiosarcoma, and needed a hospice home. Her handler loved her very much, but he had to pick up a new dog, and Peppa did not like other dogs.
We of course said yes! And we got our first Lab into the program. She was a riot! Happy, bouncing and wild. Hated the rain, loved to chase the cats, and was always ready for a game of keep away with toys.
We got her into our specialty vet right away, did a workup, and reconfirmed the cancer diagnosis.
There was a chance we would be having to amputate her hind leg, so we moved her put of the kennels and into the house. A big ex-pen was set up in the kitchen, and it gave her a chance to meet the cats and other dogs. She LOVED getting watch the baby emus hatch.
January rolled up, and after more research, it was decided to debulk the leg again, and see how it went. No amputation.
She just had her 3 month follow up in April, and she was doing fantastic.
She hated the rain and had a collection of rain jackets. The storms she could feel miles and miles out and they really upset her, even with meds, thunder shirts, fans, TVs, and everything else we could think of. I spent many nights sleeping with her in the kitchen, in her ex-pen.
Outside of the storms, Peppa was the happiest dog ever. Super expressive face and the best ears. Cat beds were stolen by her on a regular basis. But her most FAVORITE things ever... her stuffed animal collection. From Giant peeps to valentine's day bears, squishy turtles.... she was always getting something new and crazy. Her favorite was a stuffed armadillo that she would hit you with and dare you to try to take it.
On the 4th of May 2022 CWD Peppa was rushed into the vet for suspected bloat. They rushed her right into surgery. I stayed until she was out of surgery, and we made arrangements for me to be back in a couple hours to pick her up to bring her home before the big storm system hit. She had done well, so a home recovery should be ok.
I got the phone call just as I was leaving to pick her up, that her heart had suddenly stopped, and that they did everything they could to bring her back.
She was gone.
I hope her handlers, kennel and her friends know that she was so very loved and adored here. Lots of treats, playtime and had learned cats were her friends, and we had hoped she would be part of the house pack at some point.
To say we are devastated is an understatement. The shock hasn't passed. Her pen and her toys are still waiting for her to come home. And she won't be.
I love you so much Pep Pep. This isn't fair. You deserved so much more time. The world has lost a truly joyous creature. And I have lost such a friend.
MWD BEANO P310, USMC
MWD Beano P310, USMC
Patrol/ Explosive Detector Dog
DOB 18 APR 2008 - 21 JUL 2022
MWD Beano came to us from MCAS Yuma Arizona in SEP 2017.
MWD Beano P310 was struggling to find a home. I remember seeing him posted but felt at the time we really shouldn't take on another dog. I was watching his posts, holing someone would be able to step up for him.
Our friends at Mission K9 Rescue stepped up, but they needed a little more time to make room for Beano, and that was the one thing he was out of. They reached out to me to see if I could pull Beano and hold him for a few weeks until we could arrange flights for him to Houston.
So, bright and early one Saturday morning, I left Ranchita, CA for Yuma AZ. On my way, I realized I didn't know anything about this dog. Minor details, right?
Once I arrived at Yuma, I was handed his medical records, and I remembered to ask if there was anything I needed to know.
This sounds like a hot mess.
Well, we loaded up this huge mal into the car, and Beano and I made our first stop just up the road at Chick-fil-A and met some of the Army Technicians that helped advocate to save Beans life. I remember unloading this dog that was side eyeing me, and basically throwing chicken at him.
Once we got home, I made sure to tell my husband Beano's Do Not Do list. A couple weeks later, I was at training and my husband send me a text with photos. He was taking selfies, with Beano, laying in the front yard.
At the end of September, Mission K9 let me know they were ready for Beano, and for the first time, Matt asked to keep a dog. He was in love with Beano. So, we officially became foster fails.
Matt tried taking Beano to dock diving with MWD Zorro, but this was one Marine who did NOT want to go in the water. He would go down the ramp, and just lay there, in the water.
Within a year or so, Beano was moving into the master bedroom, where he learned that napping on the bed and watching TV was great. And he even made best friends with our Bahraini Feral Dog Missy, who was the same age.
It took a few years of careful watching and diving, but Beano eventually learned that cats were our friends, and not Kongs.
In almost 5 years, we never had an aggression issue, outside of a dog scuffle, and this last week when he was sick.
He had been a constant companion and friend to Matt and Missy. He was even learning to tolerate my Dutch Shepherd Odin.
On the 16th of July, 2022 out of nowhere, Beano was taken to the vet for regurgitating some water and food. The next day he was unexpectedly diagnosed with Megaesophagus. I made an appointment with our regular vet to review the findings and do a workup to try to find out what was going on. We had already started elevating his meals, bought him a blender and he was eating and taking his meds fairly well considering the learning curve.
Unfortunately, when we redid his x-rays and ran labs, we found early signs of aspirating pneumonia which is common in Megaesophagus dogs, elevated Sodium and pancreatitis.
We ran fluids on him the rest of the day, added IV antibiotics, anti-nausea meds and antacids. By the end of the day, his sodium levels were coming down, and he was starting to perk up. We decided to send him home on IV fluids, bring him back in the morning and re-evaluate everything. This also would give Matt a chance to say goodbye if things didn't look good.
By the time I got home, and started to unload Beans out of the car, I knew something was wrong. I rushed him to our local vet, and after a brief exam, I made the call to say goodbye.
Beano was very much loved, and will be so missed, especially by Matt and Missy.
We love you Marine.
MWD KIRA V273, USAF
MWD Kira V273, USAF
Patrol/ Explosive Detector Dog
DOB 07 FEB 2011 - 26 JUL 2022
MWD Kira V273 came to us 29JAN2022.
Her Handler had adopted her and had had her for almost 2 years after she retired from the Airforce, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
But in 2021, she has been diagnosed with Nasal Chondrosarcoma. He took her in to see a couple specialist, and they were able to do a round of Superficial Radiation Treatment on hopes of slowing it down.
Kira was notorious for not behaving well at the vets, so this did make things more difficult for her, but everyone got the job done.
As the year went on, she also began to have other issues that made it very hard for her Dad to take the best care of her he thought she needed. So, he reached out to us to see if we would be able to care for.
We met up on the edge of a snowstorm in Tennessee, and I got to meet her for the first time.
It's crazy how things work out, seeing this pocket rocket, sometimes sharp mal, who shared the same name as my MWD Kira J080. Both had such sharp personalities, and both could put a hurting on someone if they wanted to.
Kira walked right into our house pack at home, making fast friends with MWD Goro N759, and our 7 yr old GSD mix, Trooper. In no time at all she was with all of our house dogs and cats.
We got her into our great vet in Bossier City to see where she was at medically and see if Kira had more treatment options. We did a CT scan, removed 3 masses, and did some bloodwork. We received bad news all the way around. The Nasal cancer had already started to compromise the bone around her eye and was crossing over the bridge of her nose, and the masses we removed were also cancerous.
We reached out to our wonderful Oncologist in San Diego that had helped several of our dogs already, and he reviewed her images and her history, and told us that other than adding oral chemo to her medications, there was nothing else we could do. It was growing so fast, that it was unlikely to stop or shrink the cancer, and that the stress on her would not be worth it.
So, we moved on to making sure she was as happy and as comfortable as possible. She LOVED sitting on the couch with Matt or I to watch TV. If I was in the kitchen cooking, she would lay right at my feet.
She didn't have interest in traveling or doing things, she really just didn't want to be alone, and to nap.
We had been watching closely how the mass was growing and what it was affecting. She was getting harder to keep proper weight on, and she was staring to get picky with her foods. The nosebleeds started, but then quickly under control with an herbal supplement. Another mass began to grow rapidly on her abdomen, so we were watching that as well.
Finally, we could see the change that she was tired. She was getting very protective of her personal space as her vision became affected, and she just was not herself.
Kira and I spent her last night watching movies on the couch and made her scrambled eggs and ham for breakfast. We had a plan at the vet to make this as non-dramatic as possible for her, and it worked really well.
Mother Nature was going to take her back, one way or another, but at least we were able to make the call before the mass in her nose could rupture, or before her significant arthritis stopped her from being able to get up again.
Kira was such a fighter, and only took help on her terms, and she had no issues of telling anyone to get out of her space. People, or animals. I wish I could have known her in her younger days, I bet she was very much like my Kira, and that is saying something.
Thank you to the United States War Dogs Association for their support of Kira with all of her medication, and for the specialty program at Red Bank for her SRT treatment. That bought her much deserved time and quality of life.
We love you very much Kira-bean, and hope you are now at peace.
MWD SICARIO N165, USN
MWD Sicario N165
01 DEC 2007 - 05 OCT 2022
MWD Sicario was one of our dogs of legend for my generation of handlers. He was extremely loyal to his handler, but very handler aggressive, and very people selective.
In 2012, Sicario and his best friend and handler, MA2 Sean Brazas would prepare for thier first deployment to Afghanistan. Sean's family would come out to say goodbye, and in true Sicario fashion, he would have to be admired from a distance.
They arrived into Afghanistan the 1st of May, 2012 after completing a very successful training at the Yuma Proving Grounds.
The summer of 2012 would bring devastating losses of two wonderful handlers for the Navy.
On 30May, 2012, MA2 Brazas would come under enemy fire during combat operations, and would be struck by gunfire.
They say two handlers had to be called over to try to get Sicario under control as he tried to protect his fallen handler. He would not leave his partners side after Sean was loaded into the helicopter.
A Son, Husband and father would be lost that day.
Sicario, who was uninjured, would be returned stateside to his home kennel. He had severe PTSD, reactive, and was struggling with what he had been through.
Traditionally, the working dogs would be available to the family of the fallen handler to be adopted, but for Sicario, this would not be safe for anyone involved.
It was decided that every effort would be put back into getting Sicario back to work. He was so young, and had loved to work so much. The Army veterinarian assigned to Kitsap worked with the Kennel Master to try to get Sicario's PTSD under control.
During the spring of 2013, one of my Kennel Masters had reached out to me. There was a chance that Sicario would be unfit for duty, and would I be willing to try to take him on and care for him for Sean's family if it came to it.
I spoke to the Kennel Master, and he said he would be in touch as the behavior modification went on if it looked like Sicario was going to be retired from the program.
To the credit of everyone involved at the kennel and vet clinic, Sicario would return to duty. He was a favorite dog of several handlers, and terror to others.
Every couple years I would reach out and touch base to make sure Sicario was still doing ok.
In the fall of 2019, one of my friends transferred into Kitsap, and he reached out to let me know that Sicario was ready to be retired, and did I still have room?
Sicario was officially retired 21NOV2019.
We had never met, and he was not showing signs he was going to want to be introduced to me at the airport. The cargo handlers helped me pick him up, kennel and all and loaded him into my suv. He tried to bite my face through the vari kennel.
When we got home, I just stood at the back of the Pathfinder, pushing rotisserie chicken through the door, waiting for Sicario to stop giving me the side eye. Finally, after he stopped trying to show his teeth, I had Matt watch from inside the house as I opened the crate. I threw chicken and toys everywhere.
It was the beginning of an amazing relationship.
I don't know if I could ever write in this what it meant to me to bring Sicario into our home. I know how much he meant to Sean's family, and to so many handlers that loved Sean.
Not a day went by without ever looking at Sicario and thinking of why he was here, and of his family.
I tried to take Sicario to one event after he retired, at March AFB. Big Nope. He wanted no part of all the people, especially the Honor Guard. It was his retirement, and we were not going to force him out in public.
Sicario retired with us with almost zero issue. He loved the farm in San Diego, and was so happy to have grass again when we moved to Texas.
With a bounce in his step at all times, he could be found chasing frogs, trying to catch one of the cats, or hoarding toys.
He gave the best nose nibble kisses, or would be just happy touching his nose to your face. My husband said Sicario liked to pluck at his beard.
For the last year and a half, Sicario had been battling the sniffles. 4 vets seen him, CT scans, Xrays, labs... we would get them under control, and then they would come back. He gave us a bad scare last fall with sudden lethargy and a very high fever, but his eyes stayed sharp and he wasn't ready to go yet. 2 days of IV fluids at home (he can be dangerousto vet staff, so hospitalizing him was not in anyones best interest), tons of antibiotics, and he came right back.
I noticed a change in his eyes last week. He just looked tired. Not able to play outside for long, his breathing was just different. I had a bad feeling about it, and reached out to Sean's family, and to the couple handlers I could remember that stayed in contact, and just said I would take him in for a check up, but time might be catching up on him.
Yesturday morning, the day of his appeal, he looked pale, his breathing somewhat labored. I loaded him up and had him at the hospital as soon as they opened. They rushed him in, and we started him on oxygen, IV fluids, ran labs and chest rads.
The xrays revealed his lungs were a mess. The Dr is suspecting Lung Cancer with how he presented, the lack of response to all the antibiotics over the last year. Sicario had never stopped eating, playing, or chasing his cats with all of this going on.
I had finally had the chance to talk to Allie Brazas-Hayes, Sean's widow, this week, and she wanted to be with Sicario if at all possible when it was time.
I called her right away, and her and her mom were on a plane and heading our way.
As long as Sicario wasn't suffering, we would do everything we could to let Allie say goodbye.
It wasn't meant to be. Even with the extraordinary care everyone was giving him, Sicario was finally truly tired.
I remember looking at him, and he looked up at me, and I told him Sean was coming back for him too soon.
And he did. 2 hours before Allie landed. It was one of the worst moments of my life.
I took Sicario home, and here ar the farm, we met Allie, her mom Theresa, and one of the handlers that spent a year working with Sicario in Washington, MA2 Gerth who came in from Ft worth. We spent the evening telling stories, doing paw prints, and saying goodbye.
Sicario was always Sean's dog. We loved him so very very much, but it must be like what people feel for thier friends kids, or nieces and nephews. You know they aren't yours, but you love them just as much.
It had been an honor to be able to be part of the Brazas's extended family for the last 3 years. To be able to give Sicario the retirement that I know his dad wanted him to have.
My body hurt so much this morning with how much stress and grief came yesterday morning.
I want to thank Airline Animal Health and Surgery Center LLC for them going above and beyond for us yesterday. We love you, and can't thank you enough for the love and respect and the care you give our dogs.
Also thank you to the United States War Dogs Association for supporting Sicario's medication during his retirement.
Sean, I hope your enjoying having your partner back.