A ceremony to honour the careers of 10 military working dogs and present them with their Canine Service Medals was held at No. 3 Security Forces Squadron, RAAF Base Pearce, on December 8.
Able, Dagger, Gilda, Loki, Maxi, OJ, Onyx, Otto, Oscar and Walt were presented their medals by the ADF Trackers and War Dogs Association, along with thank you packs for each by the Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation.
Both organisations work to promote and educate people on the service of dogs and other animals that have served in operational or mascot roles.
The Canine Service Medals, which are awarded in recognition of five years’ continuous service, were presented by No. 3 Security Forces Flight Commander Flight Lieutenant Lawrence O’Reilly as Sergeant Luke Webber read out each citation.
One of the Canine Service Medals was awarded posthumously to Otto, who died in July 2018. His medal was accepted by his daughter, Military Working Dog Xeren and was placed on the right hand side of her jacket.
Otto’s handler Sergeant Luke Webber said he was grateful and moved by the posthumous Canine Service Medal for Otto.
“Otto lived to work and be loved, he helped me mentor and develop multiple dogs for the ADF due to his love and tolerance for younger dogs,” Sergeant Webber said.
“Otto helped develop and display future capability possibilities for the ADF and I am honoured and humbled that his dedication to service has been recognised today.”
The WA Ambassador of the Australian War Animal Memorial Organisation, Linda Scott, said there was no greater bond than that of a military working dog and their handler.
“The members of the ADF have chosen to dedicate their lives to the service of our country, however the military working dogs were born into it,” Ms Scott said.
“The blood that runs through the veins of the dogs we honoured today is definitely Air Force blue.”
The story of the Military Working Dog began in 1943 when the Army established a war dog reception and training depot, however when the school closed, the RAAF took over the animals in the training program and used them for asset security.
Ten years later, the Air Force introduced canine handler roles and a Police Dog Training Centre was formed.
Air Force is the largest single corporate user of military working dogs within Australia with the dogs and their handlers posted to more than 12 bases to provide security to high-value RAAF assets.
The basic preparation and dog training course is four months long and is conducted at the RAAF Security and Fire School in Amberley, Queensland. The school is responsible for training dogs for use in the RAAF and Army.