What It Takes To Be a Navy Dog Handler
Sailor brings her love of dogs into the Navy
Cheli Matlock was a mother working more than fifty hours a week and taking college courses online in her hometown of Florence, Alabama. However, she knew she wanted something more.
"I have always been obsessed with animals, especially dogs," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Matlock. "Anytime I saw a dog, I knew the breed of it. So I guess it was just natural that I wanted to do something with dogs."
She decided to weigh her options. Becoming a veterinarian would require more years of school. She thought about working as a police officer in the K-9 unit. She found out she would have to be a regular police officer for a few years before she could even apply to be a police dog handler. That is when she decided to go talk to a recruiter.
I knew I wanted to be a canine handler from the day I went to my recruiter's office."
-PO2 Cheli Matlock
"I went through boot camp, then through 'A' school. In 'A' school, they ask who wanted to do K-9. Each class might not have a slot open for K-9 because it is a 'C' school. We had two slots open and everyone that wanted to do K-9 went to a board. Later on, you found out whether or not you got selected. Out of five of us, there were two of us that got selected. Then right from 'A' school, I went to 'C' school."
A typical day for Matlock starts at 0315 at Naval Base San Diego. After gearing up, she gets her K-9 unit, checks her patrol vehicle and heads down to stand guard mount. Afterwards, she drives back to feed the dogs and clean their kennels. Then, normally, she will take her assigned dog, Emma, and find a place on base to practice her training.