Known commonly as man’s best friend, dogs also happen to be a Marine’s best friend. Working side by side daily, Military Working Dogs (MWD) and their handlers at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, and many other installations, form a special bond forged through consistent military training, hard-won trust and close companionship. Many Marines are envious of the privilege handlers have to show up to work with the MWDs every day, but most forget to consider that it is not all just belly rubs and playtime. It is a carefully balanced relationship that is both professional and personal,in-between duty and friendship.
“I know coming into work each day I will be greeted by two dogs that are ecstatic to see me and ready to work,” said Lance Cpl. Andrew Guidotti, MWD handler for Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “I get to have the privilege and opportunity to work with partners that I know will always have my back.”
Typically MWD handlers are assigned to one MWD at a time, but Guidotti is luckier than most as he is currently assigned two MWDs, Ddiaz and Anita. With double the dogs, Guidotti says he is grateful to have been given the opportunity and responsibility to train and work with both of his MWDs.
Guidotti feels in the end it is making him a better handler by teaching him twice as much as he normally would. Even though most of the work he does with both MWDs is similar, the way he goes about it with the individual MWD is vastly different, not just from their personalities, but from their level of training as well. MWD Diaz is considered a veteran dog in the kennels and Anita is the newest dog to the kennels, so Guidotti has learned quickly you can’t train and treat every dog exactly the same.
“There is a lot more work and commands that I give Anita to guide her than Ddiaz gets and needs,” said Guidotti. “Handling both dogs teaches me a lot as a handler because not one thing that I do can be approached the same way with each dog.”
Although the MWDs and their handler’s relationship is entirely professional during work and training, once it’s time to build rapport, it is most definitely one of the best jobs in the Marine Corps. But no matter how much fun it is, the purpose is still all for the job they do. They need the personal relationship that is built between handlers and their MWDs, building trust in each other to work more efficiently as a team. This coincides with their professional relationship where they know their handler is in charge and to take commands from them no matter the situation.
“Where these two relationships meet is the work itself,” said Guidotti. “The bond builds. The obedience builds. Through it all you build a strong relationship and become a strong team.”
At the end of the day, no matter how envious some may be of the handler’s duties, the MWD’s they are in charge of training and caring for 24/7 are in no way pets of any sort. They are fellow officers and trusted partners at all times. MWDs are teammates that throughout the years have shown time and time again limitless fidelity to their fellow officers and those whose lives have depended on them.