– What are you doing? Take off! Take off! (suspenseful music) – What's up, everyone. My name is Sam Eckholm, and today, I'm at the Langley
Air Force base K-9 squadron, to bring you an up close look at one of the most unique
career fields in the Air Force. These are the military working dogs. (rock music) (man screaming) Now, I have to admit. Before today, I had no
idea you could serve as a full time dog
handler in the Air Force. Now, these just aren't any dogs. They're some of the most highly
trained animals in the world and provide a huge tactical advantage to both the security and
defense of our nation. You see, these dogs are part of the Air Force's Elite K-9 Squadron, and specialize in both explosive ordinance and drug detection.
They support the secret service and work for the president directly. Just like our active duty airmen, they'll deploy down range to
help accomplish the mission. Now, the background on these dogs is actually quite interesting. They begin their journey as puppies down at Lackland Air Force
base in San Antonio, Texas. At this young age, there's no guarantee that they will develop
into an adult working dog. So, the training starts young with professional development specialists, working with the puppies from birth in printing and exposing them to a variety of activities and preparation
for the next phases of their lives.
At around the eight week mark, the puppies actually leave
the training environment and are adopted by
volunteers in the local area, who provide a secure and
nurturing home with opportunities for the young pups to be exposed to all different kinds of environments. It's not until the dogs
hit 18 to 24 months of age that they reenter the rigorous
training program at Lackland in which they are given a
strict 120 days to graduate. During this training, they'll start by learning all the basic commands. Once these are mastered, the K-9s move on to work more advanced techniques such as patrol work, detection, and more.
Now, at the same time,
over in a different area, aspiring dog handlers are also undergoing their own unique training program. Before they get to handle
their first working dog, they are responsible
for learning the basics and proper commands as well. And, not only that,
they must also learn how to groom the dogs and
keep them fit to fight. From there, it's all about
strengthening the bond between handler and K-9, arguably the most important
aspect of the job.
– I'm Staff Sergeant Noah
Medor here at Langley K-9. I am the trainer. One of the main things that
I focus on is making sure that our military working
dogs are fit and ready at all times to deploy and
support wherever we are needed. Our mission here is to
support security forces, whether that be as a patrolman or with substance detection
using the military working dogs. We also support the United
States Secret Service, using our military working
dogs for explosive detection. Our day-to-day things we do? We come in in the
morning, we feed the dogs, make sure that they're healthy. We sprayed the runs, make
sure that they're all clean. And then, we wait a little bit. Then, we start effectively
training the dogs. We are responsible for
their health and wellbeing. So, we do health checks and make sure that we have a basic knowledge
on veterinary skills.
My favorite part would probably have to be that dogs are a lot like people. They have their own personalities. Every single day, you
get something different. You see the results that you
put in as far as the work goes. – So, after learning
about the K-9 mission, it was now finally time to head inside to learn more about maintaining
and taking care of the dogs. We first checked out the handler's office, where they keep an update
records of all the dogs daily. These records are sent
to the Program Manager down at Lackland who
monitors the dogs' training and overall progress. We then moved on to the kitchen where the dogs' food is stored along with any medication
they may need to take, which is all kept in track by veterinarians working with the K-9s. There's also a wall
where they keep a record of when they last cleaned the kennels, along with the dog's weight, to make sure that they're
staying fit and healthy at all times.
Now, it was time to make
our way into the kennels to learn all about what goes in to the cleaning and
maintaining of this lively area where the K-9s live. With all these dogs, I'm
sure there's a lot of work that goes in on your end to feed them, to make sure they're clean. How's that work? – So, we feed them twice
a day, keeping them clean. We do GI at least once a
week cleaning their kennels, or as necessary. So, if a dog does get their
kennel a little bit messy, we'll come in here and
do that as necessary. Sometimes it could be every day. Most of the time, most of these dogs are
good at just once a week, keeping their kennel clean. – Yeah. So, I have to ask. How is actually cleaning the kennels here? How's that process? – It's a lot of fun.
We do move the dogs out of the kennel, and then we'll get a bucket together with some soap and water. Then, we'll just scrub it down. It's a lot of fun. It does get grimy. It does get nasty, but that's
why we do it once a week just so it doesn't build up. We could let you do it
if you want to try it. – I think that's something I'd
love to do. Check that off. I don't think I get the full experience unless I actually clean the kennels.
– Absolutely, absolutely. – Yeah. Let's do it. – It's like Dirty Jobs,
you get both sides of it. (rock music) – Now, there was one dog I
had yet to be introduced to. It goes by the name Jony. And, apparently, he is the most
ferocious dog they have here in the kennels. And, yeah. You guessed it. He is the one who will have the
privilege of chasing me down for a little demonstration. So, this is the one, huh? – Yep. This is military working dog, Jony. He's gonna be the one biting you today. – He looks pretty sweet
right now in there, but I'm sure once we bring
them out of the cage, it's gonna change a little bit, huh? – Absolutely. It's game time. He knows it's gonna be time to work as soon as he leaves here. – Well, I guess I'm more
ready than I'll ever be. So, let's get this started. – Let's do it. Let's make it happen. (rock music) – But, before I could be Jony's dinner, I had to put on what's called a bite suit.
It's a specially designed protective suit that can withstand up to 238 PSI of bite force coming directly from these military working dogs. And, let's just say that, yeah. I'm banking on this suit doing its job because I definitely don't
wanna be feeling the results of that. (man screaming) All right. Putting the bite suit. It will protect me when
I get attacked by Jony. All right. I'm not gonna lie. I feel a little bit like
an Oompa Loompa right now, but this thing's gonna protect me. So, yeah. I'm excited. (rock music) Look at him. He's hungry. He's ready to eat. Let's go. (soft, dramatic music) (suspenseful music) All right, guys. That's a wrap on my day here with the military working
dogs K-9 squadron.
I hope you learned a little bit about this unique Air Force career field and enjoyed seeing me get taken down. As always, you can visit airforce.com for more information. Or, if you have any questions, drop them in the comments below or shoot me a message on Instagram. That's a wrap from my end.
I'll see you guys next time. (upbeat music).