KSLA Salutes: Barksdale Military Working Dogs and their handlers
BAFB, La. (KSLA) - Whether the airmen and canines from the 2nd Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog unit on Barksdale are safeguarding the installation or deploying downrange, they work side-by-side to defend and protect.
One of the handlers, Dale Sammons, joined the Air Force in 2016. Seeing his family’s military background, he decided wanted to serve his country as well.
His first duty station was Tinker Air Force Base in Okla., where he had a few TDYs and was deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi. He has been a K-9 handler on Barksdale for the last five months.
“I’m really passionate about dogs and have been wanting to do it for a while so I thought I would give it a shot,” Sammons said. “You start off volunteering here and seeing what we do and seeing what everyday life is like as a handler. Once you get your letter of recommendation, you go to Lackland Air Force Base where they train all the dogs and the handlers. The course lasts about three to four months, then you go back to your base or you are stationed where the Air Force needs you. My biggest takeaway would probably be what I’m doing right now. I get to just be with my dog all day.”
Sammons is the handler for MWD Henk, who just turned three years old.
“I got a great dog,” Sammons said. “One of the best dogs here. He is one of a kind. Building the relationship between you and the dog is so important, having that rapport is key. It’s a fun process, just hanging out and taking your dog on walks. Taking them places where they haven’t been before. It’s the most important thing when you get your dog.”
The Military Working Dogs train for several months at Lackland, but that doesn’t stop once they are at their assigned bases.
That’s where Domonick Young comes in. He’s been the WMD trainer at Barksdale for the last ten years. Young says building rapport with the dogs and taking care of them is just as important as continuing to strengthen their skills.
“Rapport is definitely one of the most important things we can do here,” Young said. “Both of the dogs are still puppies. I play with them, show them love, brush them, talk to them. If you care the dogs care. The best part I would say are the challenges. When we work through different problems with critical thinking skills and come to a solution, it’s the best feeling. Every day is a new challenge, but at the same time, it’s more rewarding than anything else I could be doing right now.”
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