BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
The old veteran lays down on the couch, taking in the comforts in his new home. He yawns. For him it’s a much different setting from what he has grown accustomed to over his service. Retiring his badge, he also retires his patrolling days. Now he favors a life of comfort and relaxation and leisurely walks twice a day.
After six years of service in the U.S. Air Force, military working dog Marco officially retired as of September 8, 2017, moving out of the kennels.
“Marco has done a lot in his time serving in the Air Force,” said Maj. Ryan Natalini, 2nd Security Forces Squadron commander. “He has seen a lot and has protected a lot of people.”
Handlers have the option to adopt their dogs upon retirement. Senior Airman Travis Hansen, 2nd Security Forces military working dog handler, took the liberty of taking Marco home and made him part of his family.
“My face lights up as soon as I see him,” Hansen said. “If I’m having a bad day he makes it better because he’s there for me. It’s definitely better having my best friend at my side all the time.”
Marco joined the Air Force in August of 2010 and begun his training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. After becoming fully certified in June of 2011 as a patrol and an explosives detection dog, Marco was assigned to Barksdale AFB.
While serving he’s responded to numerous bomb threats in the Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas area. He’s also taken part in put on 150 public demonstrations, assisted in explosives sweeps for the Independence Bowl, the Air Force Ball and conducted explosive sweeps for the president, vice president, and other heads of state in our government.
In March 2016 Hansen was assigned Marco and they became partners. This was Hansen’s first partner, and one that he would never soon forget.
“From the very moment I met Marco I knew he was going to be a great partner,” Hansen said. “He had an incredible nose and he loved to bite. As time went on Marco and I built an incredible bond like no other, and I am thankful for him being my very first dog because I will always remember the good times we had together.”
Now Marco sits on the couch and gets to relax at home. Instead of sleeping in the kennels, he gets to sleep in a nice comfy bed. He also gets to spend time with Hansen’s other dog Charlie and has play time instead of training time.
“He’s not working long hours anymore,” Hansen said. “Marco no longer has to use his nose to find explosives and search vehicles. He gets to sit in air conditioning all day and go to sleep on a bed instead of concrete.”
Leisure walks around the neighborhood have replaced sprints and bite drills, and bite wraps have been traded for chew toys. Marco can rest easy now that his service to his nation is over.