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News > MWD Blitz retires after 63 'dog years' of service to nation
 
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MWD Blitz
LAJES FIELD, Azores, Portugal -- A military working dog retired here Aug. 4 following 63 “dog years” of service to the United States. Blitz has since been adopted by his handler, Staff Sgt. Kurt Lugar, 65th Security Forces Squadron, and his wife, Janelle. (Courtesy photo)
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MWD Blitz retires after 63 'dog years' of service to nation

Posted 8/10/2006   Updated 8/10/2006 Email story   Print story

    


by Staff Sgt. Marcus McDonald
65th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


8/10/2006 - LAJES FIELD, Azores, Portugal -- A military working dog here retired last week following 63 "dog years" of service to the United States.

Blitz has since been adopted by his handler, Staff Sgt. Kurt Lugar, 65th Security Forces Squadron, and his wife, Janelle.
 
"It was a complete honor to see him retire," Sergeant Lugar said. "Every handler wants to see his dog retired. I retired and adopted mine. There's no way to explain it." 

Part of the family

Making Blitz a part of the Lugar family was a gradual process, the sergeant explained. 

"We had to slowly introduce Blitz to our two dogs at home," Sergeant Lugar said. "Once he was okay with them, we brought him home for an hour, then two, then three, until he was comfortable with his environment and could spend the night.  

Blitz has since made the Lugar's residence his home in the evenings. 

"Military working dogs only know their kennel as home," Sergeant Lugar said. 

"Everywhere else to them is just another place to search. Even after a month of bringing him home, he still wants to search the house for drugs when we come home."  

Sergeant Lugar takes Blitz to work with him every day so he can spend time at the kennels. "It's been a huge adjustment for him," he said. 

The costs involved

Another aspect of adopting Blitz was the costs involved. 

"A lot of people want these dogs but when we explain to them how much it's going to cost in medical bills, they change their mind," Sergeant Lugar said. "We have to pay for his ticket to our next assignment, his medications and so on. Blitz doesn't have the same benefits he had when he was on active duty." 

Sergeant Lugar said all the challenges he and his wife went through to adopt Blitz are well worth the effort. 

"This dog is my partner," Sergeant Lugar said. "He'll risk his life for me. What's a few thousand dollars and some time compared to a having a new member of the family?"
Blitz continues to show his loyalty as one of family pets. 

"He really doesn't care for attention from anyone but mom or dad," Sergeant Lugar said. "People try to tell him to sit or lay down but he completely blows them off. He only listens to me. 

"I know his capabilities," he continued. "I've been trained to think safety first; so any time someone asks to pet him, I automatically think of the consequences." 

Bond between dog, handler

Sergeant Lugar said the bond between a military working dog and his or her handler is like no other in the military - through the good times and the challenging times. 

"No one understands the bond you build with these dogs except other handlers," Sergeant Lugar said. "People look at us and think 'that job is so cool'. It is but, they don't see us go through the hard times.  

"For example, when you have to give your dog up due to PCS or when the unfortunate happens and we have to put a dog to sleep," he said. "If you want to see grown men cry, join us next time we have to do it. No one understands these dogs and our bond with them except us. It gets tough sometimes but there's nothing like it in the world." 

Epitome of Air Force Core Values

Sergeant Lugar said Blitz and others like him have been the perfect example of the Air Force Core Values, especially Service Before Self. 

"Blitz put more time in the Air Force than your average staff sergeant or captain," Sergeant Lugar said. "He lived on a concrete slab with a cage around him for nine years. I'd like everyone to think about that every time they complain about the Air Force. 

"These dogs truly sacrifice their lives," he said. "Blitz is only one of thousands of dogs. In Vietnam we took more than 4,000 dogs and less than 300 came back. They're true heroes." 

Tech. Sgt. Tracy Booth, kennel master, 65 SFS, gave Blitz and his new owners high regard. 

"Blitz is one of those dogs you hate to see leave," Sergeant Booth said. "His devotion to duty and loyalty to his handler are second to none. He's paid his dues and it's time for him to live a life full of fun and free of stress. 

"Sergeant Lugar is one of the most dedicated MWD handlers I've ever worked with," he continued. "It's a good feeling to know that Blitz will be in good hands for the rest of his life. I wish them both the best." 

Sergeant Lugar thanked all those who helped make Blitz's retirement a success. 

"Master Sgt. Smothers, Frank at the hobby shop, all the troops at AFN, and Staff Sgt. Bill 'Admin-1' Richardson - without you, this wouldn't have been possible," the sergeant expressed. "Thank you."



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