Canine Handler Adopts SOC Retired Canine, Hero

K9 Working DogSOC has demonstrated its Dog First Philosophy by uniting SOC Canine “Hero”, after his many years of service, with SOC Canine Handler Joaquin Mello. Last month, SOC’s six year old, 85 lb. German Shepherd “Hero” was officially adopted to Joaquin Mello and his family where he will live the rest of his long life as a pampered domestic family pet. (Both are pictured on an overseas deployment, left)

“To help honor Hero and his years of service to our great nation, we want to see him go to a loving home—this is not only a perfect home—it is the strongest of bonds we are reconnecting here,” said Tim Crawford, Director of Canine Training, SOC Canine Solutions. “I can think of no better way to reward Hero for his years of service protecting and supporting the mission of national security overseas,” he added.

Hero was previously deployed on a U.S. Government Program as an Explosive Detection Canine (EDC) in Iraq. Prior to working with Joaquin in Iraq in recent years, he served for several years with SOC as an EDC.  When SOC planned to retire Hero, which most working dogs do at six or seven years, SOC went to Joaquin first. “When approached about adopting Hero, it wasn’t even a question, as he was my partner and such a great dog. We are so overjoyed!” stated Joaquin. “Hero and I have been around the world together. We deployed to Iraq together a few times. He was with me 24/7, sleeping in the room with me, with the exception of going to get food and going to the gym, we were inseparable. I walked and played with him a lot. I gave him as much time to play and work as possible—with lots of fetch and tug of war,” he added.

“I am glad that SOC gave me the chance to adopt him, because when I was in the military, it simply wasn’t an option when I was deployed in the Middle East,” stated Joaquin, a former Army canine handler. Despite the desire to adopt their dogs, military deployment schedules and living situations in military barracks is often a challenge, keeping military dogs from retiring with their handlers. “We become one with our dogs and therefore want to stay together. In fact, I owe my life to my former Army dog “Bodo”. He saved me in Iraq in 2008, by pulling me back from shots being fired at me, before I was even aware. If I didn’t have him warning me, I might not be here today.”

Part of SOC’s pairing process is the matchmaking art, where SOC canine trainers work to match a canine handler’s personality to the dog’s temperament. “Upon our first meeting, we clicked immediately. Hero’s personality and mine are one and the same,” stated Joaquin. “He is a very relaxed and fun loving dog, a big fluff ball. And, I am a laid back person, a down to earth kind of guy,” he added. In the beginning when pairing and initially training, it is important for a canine handler to understand their dog’s behavior and mannerisms to read them and begin working as a team.

In his new life of retirement, after a few short weeks of becoming acquainted at home, Hero has become a perfect member of the Mello family. He goes everywhere, in the car and on long walks, with Mrs. Mello, Joaquin’s wife. He has taken the role as her protector. In addition, the Mello family’s two year old daughter is already teaching him commands “sit, stay, etc.” (which of course HERO already knows). She gives him treats and loves on him with lots of cuddles. A new job for the Mello family’s oldest daughter is to feed and walk Hero. Hero previously had the nickname “Lunchbox” at SOC, because he loves all food. The Mello kids now call him “Hero Snackie-poo” because he gobbles up their gourmet and organic dog treats.

About SOC’s Canines

With natural attributes as biological sensors, canines can detect even the smallest trace of chemicals to uncover hazardous materials and explosives with abilities that far surpass modern technology. All SOC canines have been carefully selected through a series of tests and a strict review process, which also examines the innate drive and basic capabilities to be a successful EDC. Once procured by SOC, the company provides a detailed assessment of the individual canines, and once cleared, they are trained to detect the smallest trace of unique explosive chemicals.

SOC’s canine training employs a positive reinforcement training methodology centering around “play drive” - canines are always in search of the next toss of the ball and never view what they do as work.  In addition, the treatment of the canines matches that of a family dog, staying with their handlers 24/7 and taking regular R&R vacations back home in the U.S.

Click here to learn more about SOC's adoption process.

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