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MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Retirement is a time to reflect upon years of dedicated service with pride. On July 12, three of MacDill's finest have reached this milestone.
Three military working dogs from the 6th Security Forces Squadron, Conny, Jago and Haris, hung up their leashes at Helton Hall in front of a captive audience made of Team MacDill members and civilian media.
The retirement process, which can be a long wait, is finally over for these three heroes who will now journey into their next chapter.
Conny, a 10 year old German shepherd, has deployed to Afghanistan twice and Iraq three times. She has also been tasked in support of 12 secret service missions.Senior Airman Brandon Denton, a military working dog handler is fortunate enough to be able to adopt Conny, his partner of two years.
"She lived with me when we were deployed. It was a pretty crazy deployment. But at the end of the day she still wanted to play catch with me. She truly is my best friend" stated Denton.
Also retired was Jago, 10, who has been deployed to Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Iraq. He has provided support to nine secret service missions. Jago will spend his retirement with his current handler, Senior Airman Brett Carson. The team has been together for eight months. "I wanted to adopt Jago because he has given his entire life to military service and I wanted to be able to give him a nice retirement filled with leisure as well as a good home in which he will be loved" said Carson.
The adoption process, to include a medical clearance from the base veterinarian clinic and clearance from Lackland AFB took a total of five months. After that, Carson received the good news that he would be allowed to adopt his companion.
The third dog retired was Haris, 11, and the oldest of the three, has been deployed a total of five times to four countries. Unlike the rest, Haris will travel a little further to find his new home, all the way to Louisiana with retired Dr. Randel and Shelly Patty.
Randel, an Air Force Vietnam veteran, and his wife Shelly, have been adopting veteran dogs since President Clinton passed a law authorizing service dog adoption.
"They are very special animals and they do so much for the military so we want them to have a good retirement" said Shelly. "They go everywhere with us. Our grandkids love them. They are so loyal, giving and smart."
Haris is the Patty's fourth MWD.
The retirement ceremony was a bittersweet moment for the members of security forces. Although the overall feeling was joy, the reality sets in that they will truly be missed. In the words of Tech Sgt. Michael Hendricks, 6th SFS kennel master, "In the end, they deserve it."