Eight-year-old MWD honorably retired at Hill AFB

  • Published
  • By Donovan Potter, 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE – Born in Germany, trained in Texas and after serving his entire military career at Hill AFB, MWD Kay retired during a ceremony here Feb. 2.

The patrol, narcotic-detecting German Shepherd received a canine version of the Air and Space Force Commendation Medal at his retirement for his eight years of service in the drug mission.

With the patrol part of his mission, MWD Kay was trained to find humans, attack, bite and hold them on command.

MWD Kay’s retirement is the result of a medical issue that caused pain when he worked.

“Unfortunately, he developed a spinal nerve issue that caused his retirement,” said Tech. Sgt. John Cooper, Hill’s Kennel Master with the 75th Security Forces Squadron. “The issue causes him pain when he jumps or performs impact activities. He is a very energetic dog and loved to work.”

Military working dogs are required to receive passing scores during fitness standard tests like human military members, but MWDs do theirs every day, and they seem to love it.

“The dogs are stretched by their handlers and then perform the obedience course similar to the confidence course we do,” Cooper said. “They perform centerline drill, which to them is really just playing fetch, running back and forth picking up and bringing back a pup tug.”

MWD Kay can no longer perform the obedience course or even jump into a vehicle without being in obvious pain.

After being diagnosed with the spinal nerve issue, the veterinarian recommended a rehab regimen that included light walks every two hours that he is awake.

Cooper said they didn’t have the manning to support that routine, so he took MWD Kay home where his wife accepted that responsibility.

“Once I brought him home, my wife absolutely fell in love with him,” Cooper said. “When it was determined Kay would be retired, we decided to adopt him.”

Cooper said MWD Kay will be missed at the Hill kennels for his affectionate personality and because he was a positive role model.

“He was great at what he did,” Cooper said. “Being an older, experienced MWD, Kay showed other handlers the standard for their dog.”

Kay will live the rest of his years with the Coopers, where the commendation medal will proudly hanging above the retired MWD’s kennel.