SAN ANTONIO – A retirement ceremony was held for some military working dog retirees at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph on Tuesday morning.
For years, the talented dogs have helped keep our country safe. Now they're retiring as heroes.
Col. Christine Erlewine adopted Kevin, a military working dog that was assigned to the 31st Engineer Battalion, in September 2012.
"We're just so proud of what he did in the military. My husband's retired Air Force, I'm in the Air Force and our dogs a retiree now, too," said Erlewine.
A total of four dogs that specialized mostly in bomb detection were honored by the military during the ceremony.
Military working dog Harry was enlisted in the Air Force in March 2003. He was deployed to Kuwait in 2006, 2008 and 2010, and to Saudi Arabia in 2011 and 2012.
Military working dog Teri was enlisted in the Air Force in May 2003. He was deployed to Kuwait in 2006 and 2008, Qatar in 2009 and 2010, and Saudi Arabi and 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Military working dog Kevin was enlisted in the Army in 2005 and was deployed to Iraq in 2007 and 2011.
Military working dog Leo was enlisted in the Air Force in July 2009 and conducted health and welfare inspections across JBSA-Fort Sam Houston and Lackland.
Each of the dogs were given a certificate of meritorious service and a special retirement collar with their name engraved on it.
With retirement comes a big change in lifestyle.
Harry served alongside his handler Senior Airman George Garcia for years. They were even deployed together twice.
Now, he's the family's pampered pet.
"I don't give him commands anymore, I just let him be a dog. Whatever he wants. If he wants to go outside, he goes outside, if he wants to sleep on the couch all day, which is pretty much what he does," said Garcia.
Some dogs carry emotional scars of combat.
Kevin's owner, Col. Christine Erlewine, said he doesn't do well around crowds these days
"We don't know if that's a result of his being in combat and some of the things that he's seen," she said.
However, Kevin's new owners make sure he feels happy and loved.
"We don't have any children so he kind of has become our kid and just part of our family," said Erlewine. "Our military working dogs do great things for our country and if people get a chance to adopt them in retirement and give them good homes to live in for the rest of their lives, it's a really important thing to honor these dogs," said Erlewine.
For more information about adopting a retired military dogs, visit www.militaryworkingdogadoptions.com