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Louie’s new beginning

black labrador retriever dog sitting in front of 55th Security Forces Squadron police vehicle with the words Military Working Dog behind him

Military working dog, Louie, sits on command March 5, 2021 at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Louie is the newest member of the 55th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog section. (U.S. Air Force photo by L. Cunningham)

Air Force sergeant standing in front of military working dog holding a ball in his hand to keep the dog's attention

Tech. Sgt. Blake Radey, 55th Security Forces dog handler and trainer, reinforces commands with Military Working Dog Louie, March 5, 2021, while training on the 55th SFS obstacle course at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. (U.S. Air Force photo by L. Cunningham)

Air Force sergeant standing in front of brown sign on fence that reads off limits military working dog area danger, military working dog, black labrador retriever sits squarely underneath the sign

Tech. Sgt. Blake Radey, 55th Security Forces dog handler and trainer, and military working dog, Louie, pose for a photograph March 5, 2021, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Louie arrived on station Feb. 24 and Radey was assigned as his handler and trainer and partner. (U.S. Air Force photo by L. Cunningham)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

The 55th Security Forces Squadron Military Working Dog team at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, welcomed their newest addition Feb. 24, 2021. Louie, a two-year old black Labrador retriever became the newest member of Offutt’s MWD Section. This is the first time the Labrador retriever breed has been assigned to the MWD team here.

Like many MWD’s before him, Louie received his training at the 341st Training Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. He has been trained for obedience and detection and graduated with his certification in explosives detection.

Louie fills the seventh slot left open on the MWD team after the unexpected loss of Morty who died last October while still on active duty. This loss immensely impacted not only the unit, but Morty’s partner of more than a year, Tech. Sgt. Blake Radey, 55th SFS MWD trainer and handler.

Radey has been partnered with Louie and will be working with him in all tasks as he prepares for a future deployment later this year.

“I am very excited to have Louie as my new partner,” said Radey. “It will be my first time with a labrador of any kind, and I’m excited to learn from him. He’s very motivated to work and please already.”

MWD’s and handlers become partners, training and working together as one unit to execute their mission. Their job is to “detect and deter”.

“Working dogs are one of the most valuable assets anyone can have on their installation,” said Radey. “They offer so many intangibles on the day-to-day operations that never make the stat sheet, so to speak. They are easily one of the most undervalued partners we have as well.”

Radey and Louie participated in the National K9 Veteran’s Day Celebration activities held March 12 at the SFS kennels. The celebration day has been unofficially designated as March 13 to honor and commemorate these unique military members for their sacrifice and service throughout military history.

They have been a part of many military campaigns since World War I. Because of their great sense of smell, they are used to sniff out drugs and explosives. Working dogs are also used in other agencies, such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Each MWD is different to work with because they each have their own personalities. How they react to different handlers presents a new challenge.

“Every MWD can teach a handler something,” said Radey. “No matter how long someone has been a handler, there is always a new opportunity to learn, which is great.”

Military members who work alongside MWD’s often become dog lovers too.

“It’s crazy the way they look at you when you pull them for work,” Radey said. “The look of such love and gratitude for taking them out for the day, like you are doing them a favor for their service. I would argue it’s the complete opposite. I’m not sure any of us are truly worthy of an MWD’s love and adoration. I know I most certainly am not.”