Working like a dog: Military Working Dog Maya serves our nation

Working like a dog: Military Working Dog Maya serves our nation
U.S. Army Specialist Taylor Blanton, 3rd Military Police Detachment, Military Working Dog handler, and Military Working Dog Maya, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois assigned to the 3rd MPD, stand alert at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Blanton and Maya have been paired together as a MWD team for the past 8 months. Photo credit U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Sarah Dowe

Since 1942, Military Working Dogs have been an official part of the United States Military, providing a valuable skillset to our military members.

Training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis ensures MWDs and their handlers have the skills and confidence necessary to help protect Soldiers, Airmen, families and civilians that live and work on the base.

“The MWD teams provide base security by conducting active patrols, both in a vehicle and on foot, carrying out searches at installation entrances and are used for area sweeps,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Holmes, plans and operations non-commissioned officer, 3rd Military Police Detachment. “They also provide support to the President and Vice President of the United States and assist with the United States Secret Service Missions.”

Working like a dog: Military Working Dog Maya serves our nation
U.S. Army Specialist Taylor Blanton, 3rd Military Police Detachment, Military Working Dog handler, works with his Military Working Dog Maya, during pursuit of suspect training at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Photo credit U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Sarah Dowe

In accordance with Army regulations, the MWD teams at JBLE are required to uphold weekly and annual training standards. After becoming certified, each handler and their assigned MWD train four to five days a week; including working the road, conducting explosive and bomb sweeps, and obstacle courses.

“Obedience training is used to ensure that the MWD is able to negotiate obstacles relating to real-world objects,” said Holmes. “We use gunfire training to ensure the MWD does not have adverse reactions while either deployed or in a garrison environment where weapons are being fired.”

The teams also practice apprehending, escorting and the pursuit of a suspect. For these scenarios, the MWD is laser-focused to their handler and waits to execute their directed commands.

MWD Maya, a 5-year-old Belgian Malinois assigned to the 3rd MPD, specializes in substance detection, patrol work and controlled aggression. She and her handler, Army Spc. Taylor Blanton, MWD handler, 3rd MPD, have worked and trained together for the past eight months.

“I love conducting scenario training with her. She has great drive and high independence,” said Blanton. “I enjoy every opportunity that I get to work with her.”

Working like a dog: Military Working Dog Maya serves our nation
U.S. Army Specialist Taylor Blanton and Military Working Dog Maya. Photo credit U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Sarah Dowe

Throughout the day, MWDTs can be seen working by the gates, patrolling on foot or guarding an important asset. However, it is behind the scenes where the teams learn to work together to become the most cohesive and effective team as they can possibly be.

“The most rewarding part of the job is being able to train a newly paired team and watch them succeed and progress in their training up to becoming a certified team,” said Holmes. “There are so many reasons to enjoy what we do.”