NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla. – At a special ceremony Wednesday, fellow service members saluted “Hero,” a military working dog who was retiring from Naval Station Mayport after 47 “dog years” of service.
The event included literal bells and whistles for Hero and his most recent handler, Master at Arms Petty Officer First Class Eric Dossantos, who has been with Hero for about a year.
“He works hard. He is very playful, but he knows when to get serious to do his job,” Dossantos said.
In his more than six human years serving in the military, Hero was known as an explosive detection dog. Many of his 5,000 hours of work were spent sniffing for explosives or drugs.
Petty Officer Second Class Daniel Jenks was Hero’s handler for the longest stint -- about three years -- and he is now adopting Hero post-service.
“It is honestly one of the best days of my life seeing Hero get out of the military and just live on the USS Couch and just enjoy his life being a dog,” Jenks said. “He is just a lovable goofball. He would run circles around you, and then, when it’s time to relax, he just lays on the bed and he does not move. He’s a great dog.”
Hero deployed twice with missions in Qatar and Kuwait.
That work is over, and although he’ll be living with a different family, Dossantos said he’ll always have a connection with his partner.
“He will always have a place in my heart,” he said.
Hero retires at the rank of chief petty officer after a job well done.
“Shipmate, you stand relieved,” a senior chief master at arms said during the ceremony. “We have been watched.”