Processing four-legged deployers

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu
  • 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Receiving orders is only the first step to actually putting boots on the ground.

When Airmen get tasked to deploy there are several things that must be squared away to include physical and training records, as well as mental health screening.

"Mushe will get a full physical from the doc which will include checking his vitals, gums, teeth, eyes, range of mobility and do blood work to check for any diseases or abnormalities," said Staff Sgt. Sean McKenna, 355th Security Forces Military Working Dog handler.

Mushe is a four year old Belgian Malinois. He has been on two deployments and is a dual-purpose dog.

"They will make sure he is current on all shots, and see if anything needs to be addressed before departure," said McKenna.

Along with medical clearances, the pair will change up their workouts and receive additional mobility training to prepare for their deployment location.

"Mushe and I are working on rucking more, as well as bonding since we will be working side by side at all times," McKenna said. "We will be working on detection and discipline, as well as the small stuff, like getting used to each others' pace."

McKenna and Mushe will also attend mandated readiness training at the Regional Training Center at Creech Air Base, Nev., together.

"We will receive hardcore, physically demanding training exercises for 30 days that are up-to-date with what is going on in our deployed location," McKenna said. "We will be rucking eight miles at a time and experience live fire scenarios and explosions equivalent to real life ones in the desert, all to make sure we are prepared."

Before deployments, Airmen are encourage to take leave and visit family, to help get in the right mind set, the same is true for military working dogs.

"Before we leave for this deployment we will take some time off to get our thoughts together," McKenna said. "We need to calm our minds so we are in the right mindset to complete the mission once we arrive."

McKenna's original partner was not cleared medically to go on their upcoming deployment, which is why he is "getting to know" Mushe.

Figo, an 8 year old German Shepard, has been McKenna's partner since he became an MWD handler a year ago. Figo has been on five deployments and prior to this recent tasking, he was diagnosed with arthritis in his hips.

"All dogs in our kennel are awesome and are trained properly," McKenna said. "We all work with our assigned partners daily, so now Mushe and I are learning each other."

The relationship between a handler and his canine friend is vital to mission success and the safety of all U.S. Government personnel and assets.

Even though they haven't been working together long, progress is noticeable and McKenna feels very proud and excited to deploy with Mushe in the spring.