Retirement -- it's the day most of us are eagerly waiting for, the day we get to kick back, relax, and stop worrying about work. For Marco, a seasoned Military Working Dog stationed here at Hill Air Force Base, his days of relaxing on the couch and chasing squirrels began last week on July 6.
At age 13, Marco was one of the oldest working dogs serving in the military and was the last "Bravo" series dog stationed at Hill, which meant he was the oldest at this base. He was trained to be a drug dog and when it came to sniffing out illegal substances, Marco was one of the best.
"He was very good (to work with)," said Tech Sgt. David Mulder, a member of the 75th Security Forces Squadron's Military Working Dog section and one of Marco's previous handlers.
Mulder and Marco deployed together for six months to Camp Cropper in Iraq. While there, they worked detainment operations, where Marco mostly acted as a deterrent to keep detainees from escaping, Mulder explained.
While there, the pair also took part in "health and wellness inspections," or drug searches. "He had one find over there," Mulder said. "It was actually one of the detainees ..."
After work was done, Mulder would sometimes let Marco sleep in his room with him. Unfortunately for Mulder, his canine friend happened to be a bed hog.
"He had a kennel but most of the time I'd let him hang out in the room," Mulder said. "He'd pretty much shove you off the bed."
Mulder admitted that despite being a bed hog, Marco was one of his favorite working dogs. "He's a love hound," he said. "When he came up to you he'd always rub his head up against you."
Back at home, Marco was known to have a swagger in his step and be loveable and protective of those he knew well. "Marco was a happy dog and very handler protective," Mulder said. "I know that everyone loved him."
Though all of the dogs at the MWD kennel receive treats and lots of love from the Airmen, Marco was the favorite. "Everybody liked Marco," Mulder said. "We pretty much give (all the dogs) treats, but Marco would sometimes get extras just because he was the old guy."
"He got a steak on his birthday every year," Mulder said as he described how he'd make sure Marco got a juicy treat for the occasion.
After his years of dedication to his handlers and hard work while at home and on deployments, Marco was finally ready to retire this year.
"He's getting older and slowing down," Mulder said as he explained why Marco was retiring. "It's just his time."
Though he only officially retired recently, Marco has been enjoying some of the high life already as the kennel mascot, Mulder said.
Before Marco could officially retire, his personality and things like aggression had to be reviewed to see if he was adoptable. For dogs that are not adoptable, they have a chance to go back to work as training dogs at Lackland AFB, Texas, or join up with local law enforcement.
Luckily for Marco, his loving personality won out and he was adopted by an old handler, Staff Sgt. Nathan Stull, a member of the 446th SFS stationed at McChord AFB, Wash.
"At last report -- a couple of days ago via Facebook -- Marco B127 had settled in nicely and was living the life ..." said Melanie Swartz, doctor of veterinary medicine, chief, Hill Veterinary Services and a member of the U.S. Army.