MERIDIAN, Miss. (NNS) -- Naval Air Station Meridian is proud to announce its newest Security Forces member, Military Working Dog (MWD) Baba – a 5-year-old male German Shepherd.
On Aug. 14, Baba and his handler, Master-at-Arms 3rd Class Jonathan White performed a demonstration of Baba’s attack and obedience abilities for the media and special guests.
Baba has been a U.S. Navy MWD since the age of two when he graduated from the Military Working Dog Boot Camp at Lakeland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. He has served at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, and Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, before coming to Meridian.
“The entire time Baba has been onboard he has had nothing but progression and to be honest, he has taught me much more than I have taught him,” White said.
Baba is White’s first military working dog and they typically spend 6-10 hours a day together. White also completed his training to be a dog handler at Lakeland Air Force Base.
“Being a dog handler takes more than just being able to walk a dog,” White said. “You need to be intellectually capable as well as physically fit. You must make split second decisions constantly that can help or sometimes hinder your dog's abilities to execute the desired behavior. We train every single day because a working dog is a very perishable skill and it must be practiced consistently.”
White added that a bond must be formed between a dog and its handler.
“The bond between dog and handler is one that few know and even fewer understand,” White said. “The strength of the relationship between the dog and its handler is known as rapport - the soul of the dog team. If you don't have good chemistry with your dog, then you definitely need to take a couple steps backs. My mentor told me once, ‘These dogs aren't machines and have personalities just like people. Sometimes they just need to be a dog and the handler must understand that.’ It's a work-hard, play-hard life for dog teams, but it’s totally worth the challenge.”
In addition to Baba and his handler, White, NAS Meridian is home to three additional working dog handlers who are waiting to be paired with dogs and a Kennel Master. Master-at-Arms 1st Class Anthony Guglielmo is NAS Meridian’s Kennel Master. He has 11 years of military working dog experience as a handler and dog training instructor.
Guglielmo was certified as a Navy Kennel Master in 2013.
“I was very fortunate to have very knowledgeable kennel masters and trainers along the way to teach me,” Guglielmo said. “I also learned a lot at training school from some the best dog trainers the military has to offer.”
Guglielmo is excited for the future of this program and what it can do for the installation.
“We are just starting out and our program will be really taking off in the next few months,” Guglielmo said. “This is just the beginning of what we will be doing so keep an eye out for us. If you see us out with the dogs, please remember that any MWD or service dog is not a pet. Please do not try pet the dogs.”
NAS Meridian last had military working dogs in 2007, so it’s been 11 years and we are thrilled to welcome Baba to our installation and Baba seems to be thrilled too.
“Baba is always excited to see me and just wants to play all the time,” White said. He is just a cuddly lap dog until I tell him to find bad guys then he's not so nice. Baba really impresses me because knows when it’s play time and when it’s work time.”
For more news from Naval Air Station Meridian, visit www.navy.mil/local/nasmeridian/.