By Mr. G Anthonie Riis, Fort KnoxJanuary 25, 2019
FORT KNOX, Ky. -- Military Working Dog Cheyanne retired and was recognized by the Fort Knox community during a ceremony at Fort Knox's Waybur Theater on Jan. 29. Cheyanne served 11 years in the Army, which included deployments as an explosives detection dog.
34th Military Police Detachment Commander Capt. Mark Swisher said Cheyanne started her career in the Tactical Explosive Detector Dog program -- a non-traditional training program designed to quickly deploy canines to troops with no dog handling skills in an effort to help locate improvised explosive devices.
"A TEDD was trained for a short time with a [selected] Soldier from a unit that needed a [detection] dog, and the dog might deploy with any unit," Swisher said. "The dog would go downrange, and after the deployment, the dog would come back and go through the [training] process and deploy with a different Soldier all over again."
As the need for the program subsided, the dogs went on to fulfill other rolls in the Army.
"When the war died down, the Army selected the best from that program and those dogs went to military police units in the states," said SPC Hunter Smith, a dog handler with the 905th Military Working Dog Detachment who is adopting Cheyanne following her retirement. "Cheyanne transitioned out of that program in 2013 into the MP Working Dog Program and became a Patrol Explosive Detection Dog here."
Swisher said it was not difficult for Cheyanne to adapt to her new role stateside.
"We have drug and explosives detection dogs in the Military Working Dog program," Swisher said, "She came from a unique program where any Soldier could have used her for unit missions. It was an easy transition for her."
After a lifetime of service and a deployment to Iraq, Smith said Cheyanne is no longer healthy enough for the rigors of Army service.
"She has some issues [with her back], and just the wear and tear that comes from doing all those things that most dogs generally don't," Smith said. "She's ready for retirement."
Swisher said that Smith and the dog have become close through Cheyanne's retirement process.
"When her last handler left, she was unassigned," Swisher said. "He's been her caretaker over the last year as she's been dealing with her medical issues. She's become more of a pet than a working dog and they've formed a bond."
A native of Kentucky, Smith is slated to leave Army service and become a police officer with Frankfort City Police Department. He says he's ready to spend some relaxing quality time with his new pet.
"She's just perfect for me. She's really easygoing and just wants to be loved on," Smith said. "I'm ready to get out of the Army and she's just going to be my couch dog."