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Good boy closes MWD career

  • Published
  • By Glenn S. Robertson
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

Military Working Dog Beni/X500 retired after nine years of loyal service during a ceremony at the Trails End event center on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, April 6, 2023.

Beni will retire to the home of one of his previous handlers, Manuel Smith.

“Beni is the best partner I could have ever asked for and it’s been nice having a partner that is always there to listen, regardless of what it is,” said Smith. “I am glad for the time we had together as partners and I am glad that I can provide that for him up until his last.”

Military working dogs are often a crucial aspect of a base’s mission, and their skillsets can range from drug detection to explosive detection, as well as serving as a non-lethal option for neutralizing threats. Beni was a highly trained explosive detective dog, and during his tenure at F.E. Warren, he was deployed to an undisclosed location and he was also tasked with eight separate missions assisting the U.S. Secret Service with explosive detection sweeps for the President, Vice President and First Lady of the U.S.

Beni was born in January 2014, and began explosive detection training Nov. 16, 2015 and graduated May 26, 2016, then arriving at F.E. Warren in February of 2017. He was partnered with Staff Sgt. Manuel Smith in 2019, and they were partnered together May 2022, when Smith left the Air Force.

A service member who retires after 20 years of military service will only have committed a quarter of their expected life span to the military. In contrast, a military working dog who serves anywhere from six to nine years will commit half to 75% of their lives in service to the U.S. military.

Maj. Josh Hight, commander of the 90th Security Forces Squadron, honored Beni’s specific service while describing what was awaiting him in retirement, as well as emphasizing the importance of the roles played by MWDs.

“Unlike our pets at home who get to sleep on the couch while we’re at work and surf the kitchen counters while we’re not looking, take long walks and maybe catch the food that might drop accidentally from our tables, military working dogs do not get to experience that until this point in their lives,” said Hight. “When they’re born, they get to be a puppy for a little bit, but they are quickly thrown into rigorous training to be professional warfighters – trained to seek, detect, search, escort and arrest, and they are there for our handlers to provide comfort in that time of need as well.”

After protecting the installation’s personnel and property, Beni is ready to go home with Smith. There was abundant well-wishing for the newly retired canine, but Hight summed up the sentiment of those present.

“Beni, if you could hear me right now and understand what I’m saying, I would say to you ‘job well done’ and congratulations,” said Hight. “From this point forward, may all of your changes in behavior be due to the smell of bacon and steak, may all your sits be wherever you like and may your Kong be forever filled with peanut butter.”

Smith ended his speech with a recital of a poem dedicated to K-9 officers, called “Guardians of the Night.”


The Guardians of the Night

Author Unknown

Trust in me my friend, for I am your comrade.
I will protect you with my last breath.
When all others have left you and the loneliness of night closes in,
I will be at your side.

Together we will conquer all obstacles,
and search out those who wish to do harm to others.
All I ask of you is compassion,
and the caring touch of your hands.

It is for you that I will unselfishly give my life
and spend my nights unrested.
Although our days together may be marked by the passing of the seasons
Know that each day by your side is my reward.

My days are measured by the coming and going of your footsteps.
I anticipate them at every opening of the door.
You are the voice of caring when I am ill,
The voice of authority when I have done wrong.

Do not chastise me unduly,
for I am your right arm,
the sword at your side.
I attempt to do only what you bid of me.
I seek only to please you and remain in your favor.

Together you and I shall experience
a bond only others like us will understand.
When outsiders see us together,
their envy will be measured by their disdain.

I will quietly listen to you and pass no judgment,
nor will your spoken words be repeated.
I will remain ever silent, ever vigilant, ever loyal.

And when our time together is done
and you move on in the world,
Remember me with kind thoughts and tales.

For a time we were unbeatable,
Nothing passed among us undetected.

If we should meet again on another street
I will gladly take up your fight,
I am a Military Working Dog.

We are the guardians of the night.