JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas, –
Military members assigned to the 802nd Security Forces Squadron stand at attention bordering the walkway to the entrance of the Holland Military Working Dog Hospital, Feb. 27, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. The sound of distant police sirens anticipates the final salute in honor of MWD Daysi.
Staff Sgt. Paul Olmos, 802nd SFS MWD handler, leads his partner MWD Daysi down the walkway as attending military members render a salute to their comrades.
Since her narcotic detection certification in January 2014, MWD Daysi displayed potential and endurance as she and her handler grew into a solid team.
"Daysi and Olmos were an ideal team pairing," said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Nelson, 802nd SFS kennel master. "Olmos was Daysi's first official handler and she was his first dog. Their relationship is immense because this was their first experience as a MWD team."
The MWD team displayed great potential as they trained for and participated in the annual Texas Toughest Dog competition.
"Daysi became one hell of a runner," Olmos said. "We ran though an obstacle course and up hills for a total of four miles. There were times when she dragged me up those hills. We became stronger together and I'll never forget that."
The bond between handler and dog is created through time and dedication; in turn, displaying the value of MWDs in the security forces career field.
"All of the handlers are here on the weekends training with their dogs," Nelson explained.
"I'm single and I don't have immediate family here, so I'd come on the weekends just to visit her and take her on runs," Olmos said. "I couldn't even tell you how much time we've spent together."
This January, MWD Daysi's certification was canceled when trainers noticed a display of discomfort in her left leg. Initial medical procedures didn't reveal anything significant and physical therapy was prescribed. During a follow-up exam the growth of a tumor became apparent.
Veterinarians informed the unit that MWD Daysi had an aggressive form of cancer and a malignant tumor, explained Nelson. The tumor was pushing on a nerve and causing her pain. Due to the location, doctors were unable to operate, which would cause the cancer to spread to the rest of her body.
"The news of Daysi's declining health hit us hard; this sort of news always does," Nelson said. "Euthanasia of MWDs is a last resort and we try to approach every option available before it comes to that. Most of our dogs get adopted out or continue on with their service in a civilian police department."
On her last day, Feb. 27, those that worked closely with MWD Daysi escorted her to the veterinary clinic. A police procession blared sirens that resonated throughout the base. Military bearings were tested that afternoon.
"These dogs are our brothers and sisters in arms as well," said Nelson.
"Through all the training we've done together and the long 12 to14 hour days; it was just me and her," Olmos said. "She's my partner."