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NEWS | Feb. 29, 2024

Military Working Dog foster event provides perfect match on Valentine’s Day

By Vanessa R. Adame 37th Training Wing Public Affairs

On a deployment to Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012, U.S. Army Maj. Keith Williams was assigned as the Battalion Operations Officer for 2-8 Infantry Battalion of the 2nd Brigade. This is where Williams first gained an appreciation for the indispensable role of the Military Working Dog. Working alongside uniformed service members, these dogs diligently engaged in the dangerous work of detecting improvised explosive devices. 

In Kandahar, the dogs routinely dismounted combat patrols and operations, crucially identifying IEDs before they could harm Soldiers. This profound experience remained etched in Williams’ memory, inspiring him to continue to serve his country even after his retirement last year. Recently, he committed to fostering a puppy through the Department of Defense MWD Puppy Foster Volunteer Program.  

On Feb. 14, Williams joined nearly a dozen foster families at the MWD Malentine’s Day event – appropriately named after the MWD pups, who are Belgian Malinois.    

Dressed for the occasion with a red bow adorning their collars, the six-week-old puppies were introduced to their families one by one. As staff handed out Valentine's messages proclaiming to “chews” their foster parent, MWD members carried the pups to meet their parents. Williams was matched with pup RRuin, who was the last to be born in a litter of 11 on New Year’s Eve.  

“I couldn’t think of a more applicable name for a working dog that’s at some point going to have the opportunity to ruin some bad guy’s day,” Williams said. 

This marked Williams’ first experience fostering an MWD, driven by the recent loss of the family’s own pet and an even greater desire to contribute to a program he knew to have saved lives. “I can already tell this is going to be a very rewarding and impactful experience,” he said. 

For Tammie Lafferty and her husband Matt, it was their second time opening their home to a puppy in this program. “It’s not only because you get to have these adorable puppies and be part of this great community, but it's also a way for us to serve our country as civilians because we’re helping the military in the long run,” Tammie said, who like her husband is also retired military.  

The foster program runs five-and-a-half months long and is meant to provide the pups with different environments to prepare them for the next phase of their lives.  

Tracy Cann, Breeding Program Foster Consultant coordinator, emphasized the pivotal role of the foster parents in shaping the puppies’ development, emphasizing the importance of exposure to various environments to cultivate skills necessary for their duties.  

“Without our foster families, we could not do enough interactions with these puppies to make them the mental machines that they need to be,” Cann said. “Our puppies are explosive detection … they find bombs and they bite bad guys, so if you're raising one of these guys, you will save lives in the future by raising this dog.” 

As for Williams, the more time he spends with RRuin, the more he appreciates the MWD foster program and its efforts. “It’s a powerful opportunity to be a part of this program,” he said. “No doubt, the MWDs assigned to our battalion helped save American lives and the lives of our allied partners.” 

To learn more about fostering a MWD puppy, contact Tracy Cann at