Military working dog retires with handler's family
April 22, 2008
A 2-year-old military working dog, whose master was killed in action in Afghanistan earlier this year, found comfort in a new home Friday. Bo, a specialized search dog assigned to the 6th Military Police Detachment, 1st Battalion, 13th Aviation Regiment here, was adopted by his handler's brother in a ceremony at the Gwinnett County Fallen Heroes Memorial in Lawrenceville, Ga.
His handler, Sgt. 1st Class. Donald Tabb was killed while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom in February.
Tabb's brother, Willie Smith, said Friday was an emotional day but he was happy to add Bo to his Family.
"Bo means a lot to me and my Family," Smith said. "My brother spent a lot of time with Bo ... and I think he will help us cope with the loss of Donald. I find a great comfort with Bo."
Because Tabb spoke so fondly of Bo, Smith said he felt that Bo was already a part of the Family and Bo and Tabb's Family shared an immediate bond.
"Donald talked a lot about Bo. Bo brought him a lot of joy," he said. "Bo was his partner and he played a great part in saving lives and helping to maintain and preserve his life."
Bo was present at Tabb's funeral and memorial service, according to Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Timmins, the kennel master here.
"The Army made sure they expedited Bo's return from Afghanistan so he could be here for Tabb's funeral," he said.
During the memorial service here Feb. 20, Bo knew something wasn't right and he kept looking for Tabb, Timmins said.
"Bo really helped (Tabb's family) heal because when he was with Tabb's mother, it was the only time I saw her smile," he said. "Bo is kind of the last connection that they had with Tabb and it means a lot to them and it means a lot to us (at the military working dog section)."
During Friday's ceremony, Tabb's family was joined by local law enforcement officers, fellow dog handlers and Soldiers from Tabb's unit. Tabb was posthumously promoted to sergeant first class and Bo was promoted to master sergeant before he was retired and presented to Smith.
"There's a lot of hard work that goes into training these dogs - a lot of hard work and patience. It's not all fun and games and that is how the bond between a handler and his dog is forged," Timmins said.
Timmins added that Smith wasn't just receiving a pet; he was welcoming into his home an outstanding Soldier that saved countless lives.
"As we bring Bo's distinguished military career to an end and retire him to your Family, I'm sure he'll work every bit as hard at his new job and that is making your Family happy," he said.
Before taking Bo's leash during the ceremony, Smith promised to give Bo a safe and loving home.
"I would just like to thank the Army for giving us the opportunity of having Bo and honoring my brother's memory," he said. "(Every time I play with Bo), it will remind me of my brother and all the good he did and I know this is what he wanted."