Patrol Explosive Detection Dogs are trained to detect explosives and communicate to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Marines. LCpl Donald Hesse, of Salem, Massachusetts, and Dasty are working together to build a relationship dependent on trust and clear communication.
LCpl Hesse and his military working dog Dasty have been working together for a month, and once a week, the two go on a three to five mile walk to ensure Dasty remains in shape and properly acclimatized to the Okinawa heat. All Marines must meet strict fitness requirements, whether they serve on two legs or four.
At the end of their weekly walks, LCpl Hesse carries Dasty, a practice that strengthens Hesse's ability to take care of Dasty in the event of injury or overheating.
For military working dogs and their handlers, the ability to establish trust and a solid relationship is paramount to their ability to work as a team. "You have to build a bond with them," Hesse said following a day of training. "And make that connection, where you actually click and become a team with your dog."
One month into training, LCpl Hesse and Dasty are still building their ability to trust each other. But time together in a relaxed environment can be just as important as training to their relationship, and can even help morale. "Having something to take care of and something that loves you back unconditionally really helps out," said Hesse.