(Editor’s Note: The Fort Huachuca Public Affairs Office went inside the 483rd Military Working Dog Detachment for a special interview with one of its recently deployed members.)
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. – It’s an early morning wakeup call for training today followed by making sure the sleeping quarters were cleaned and inspected before heading out to the field.
“I’m a five-year-old Belgian Malinois who specializes in drug detection,” said Nina.
Nina, a military working dog, went through four months of training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
“Some dogs take a little longer, but since I’m super smart I didn’t have to wait to come protect the community here.
“I have been working with my dad, or as the Soldiers call him, Spc. Shawn A. Buie, for the past year.”
Nina and Buie recently returned from a five-month deployment to Kuwait.
“We spent most of our time searching bags for customs to ensure that no one was trying to bring drugs back to the United States,” Nina explained. “Dad said that if we had stayed for nine months I would have sniffed over 10,000 bags the entire time we were there.
“I spent a bunch of time with my dad in Kuwait, I slept on a bed with him, and we would go to the Exchange together. My fondest memory of Kuwait was all the time I spent with my dad; I rarely left his side.”
Nina and Buie normally work four days a week training on the skill sets Nina learned during her initial military schooling.
“When we work, he tries to hide the drugs, but I always find them even if it takes me a little longer cause dad is getting really good at hiding them from me,” Nina bragged.
“Sometimes when I find some drugs my dad gives me my favorite snack – pepperoni, but I always get my favorite toy – the Kong.
“During the training today I found five drugs all hidden in buildings or in the dirt. Dad shows me where to sniff for the drugs and I find them.
“Today we started in lower Garden Canyon where training samples of marijuana and cocaine were hidden throughout a quarter mile of buildings and open terrain.
“When I found the first stash of drugs, dad gave me my Kong. I got so excited, and we even played a little tug of war. Then it was back to work, because I still had more drugs to find.
“When all of the drugs were found, I was really tired, so dad gave me a break and some water. Dad even let me keep my Kong, because he was so proud of me for finding all the drugs.
“We make an awesome team together. The bond we have is unmatched, and no one can ever replace my dad,” Nina said as she leaned in closer to Buie.
Nina and Buie spent the remainder of the day with the rest of the military working dogs conducting more drug detection training before heading back to the kennels for the evening.
“Life in the kennels isn’t bad because I’m around all my friends every day,” Nina explained. “I am one of four Belgian Malinois and four German Shepherds at the kennels. Even though I specialize in narcotic detection, five of my other friends are really good at sniffing out explosives, which is a little too scary for me.
“Sometimes we get excited and really loud when our parents come feed us or take us out to play. Our parents have taught us that searching for drugs is a game for us, and we are really good at that game. Dad knows exactly how to keep my head in the game, even if someone has some really delicious snacks laying around,” Nina said licking her lips.
“My dad tells me all the time that I’m too hyper, but it’s a really good thing if I have to bite someone,” she explained. “I was trained from a young age to only bite when dad gives me our secret command or when people are too aggressive.”
Military working dogs also conduct local security checks, bomb sweeps and more to keep the Fort Huachuca community safe.
“When we do what the Soldiers call health and welfare check…all I do is go in and poke my nose around to make sure the young Soldiers are being safe and don’t have anything they shouldn’t, but sometimes I get distracted by the pizza they leave out because it has pepperoni.
“I have only done four of these health and welfare checks with my dad, and I can confidently say, ‘no pizza has been eaten during those checks.’ However, I shouldn’t be held liable if I do eat some of the delicious snacks that are left out for me.
“Dad says I’m like controlled chaos,” Nina said. “When it’s time to work my nose is in the game, but when work is over I am a ball of energy that loves zoomies and getting belly scratches.
“I love being a military working dog in the 483rd Military Working Dog Detachment here.”
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Fort Huachuca is home to the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM)/9th Army Signal Command and more than 48 supported tenants representing a diverse, multiservice population. Our unique environment encompasses 946 square miles of restricted airspace and 2,500 square miles of protected electronic ranges, key components to the national defense mission.
Located in Cochise County, in southeast Arizona, about 15 miles north of the border with Mexico, Fort Huachuca is an Army installation with a rich frontier history. Established in 1877, the Fort was declared a national landmark in 1976.
We are the Army’s Home. Learn more at https://home.army.mil/huachuca/.