Story by A1C SHANNON BOWMAN on 08/27/2019Known as man's best friend, dogs are often looked to for their unconditional provisions of loyalty and companionship. For military working dogs and their handlers, a strong bond can be the difference between life and death. These partners must learn to fully trust and rely on each other, and often form lifelong relationships.
Following a career of honorable service, one special 6th Security Forces Squadron MWD received a hero's homecoming by being adopted by one of his former handlers.
Josh Burnett, a former U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. and 6th SFS military working dog handler, adopted his former partner Jecky, a Belgian Malinois, who retired from active duty May 28, 2019, after serving at MacDill Air Force Base for seven years.
According to Burnett, the initial pairing between the team was not easy.
"Initially Jecky and I were not meshing well," said Burnett. "It took a lot of extra time and training for us to get on the same page, but once we figured each other out we made a very good dog team."
Over the course of three years and hours of training, Burnett stated that the duo strengthened their bond and Jecky's abilities significantly improved.
"Not many dogs are stellar in both patrol and detection, but in my opinion Jecky was above average in all aspects," said Burnett.
Throughout his time at MacDill, Jecky played a role in the development and training of several handlers in the kennel according to Staff Sgt. Ed Worobe, a 6th SFS MWD handler.
"Jecky was the first dog I was assigned to and he was a phenomenal detection dog," said Worobe. "In his prime he was up there with the best dogs in the kennel."
Worobe worked as Jecky's handler for one year and said that he was fortunate to know Jecky not only as a well-trained MWD, but also as a kind-hearted friend.
"Jecky was great with people and was the sweetest dog that I have ever worked with," said Worobe.
Once Jecky's retirement was announced, Burnett knew immediately that he wanted to adopt his former partner.
"I worked with Jecky every day for three years, we deployed together and my daughters loved him so adopting him was a no-brainer," said Burnett.
Burnett explained that he is grateful to be able to provide a home for Jecky, and Jecky seems to be acclimating to retirement well.
"I'm excited to let Jecky be a dog for the remaining years that he has left," said Burnett. "These dogs go through rigorous training that takes a toll on their bodies, so I'm glad he will be able to just relax and enjoy life now."
Although Jecky's duties as a patrol and detection dog have ended, Burnett said his drive and playful spirit have not faded.
"He hasn't lost his passion for his ball, and he takes it everywhere he goes now," said Burnett.