This archive includes blog posts published by the Military Working Dog Team Support Association prior to 2016, as well as miscellaneous content that is now out-of-date.

MWDTSA, founded in 2006, has served hundreds of military working dog teams in all branches of the service. We provide care packages to handlers and K9s serving in global combat zones. We schedule recognition events for active duty teams at home station kennels.

As well, we support veterans causes and much more. The blog posts in this archive cover a range of topics, from kennel visits to donor thank yous. For more stories, also check out our Kennel Talk archive here:

Will you become part of MWDTSA’s story? We are seeking volunteers to help in variety of roles, including fundraising. It’s an honor to support our troops, both the two-legged and four-legged variety! For more information, visit

Natural Balance Pet Foods 2013 Rose Parade Float Celebrates Military Working Dogs

Just prior to the Rose Parade this year, I was able to visit the Fiesta Float facility in Irwindale, Calif. to see the Natural Balance MWD memorial float being decorated and met Joey Herrick, CEO Natural Balance Pet Foods.

Dogs from all services and from WWII to the present were the focus of this floral tribute that will lead to a MWD monument at Lackland AFB in Texas later this year, and also hopefully, a similar one on the Mall in Washington, DC.

Also riding on the float would be Marine Gunnery Sergeant Chris Willingham, Corporal Juan Rodriques and retired Marine SSD Lucca. Lucca was the MWDTSA Hero dog in 2006. Natural Balance arranged for Chris and Lucca to fly first class from Helsinki Finland to LA for the parade…yes Luuca had her own seat up front!

The float is a replica of The National MWD monument, rendered in flowers and seeds. An 18-wheeler with trailer will crisscross the US with the actual bronze statues for the next six months, promoting the memorial. It will be at the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Feb 3 and end in Wash DC on July 4. Herrick wants another similar memorial to WWII, Korea, VN and current era MWD teams on the Mall in Wash DC. The Lackland monument is scheduled for completion and dedication in Oct 2013. Itinerary will be listed on the Natural Balance website. NB had t-shirts made for the parade float and memorial as well as enameled pins. Ask Dixie to model hers! Look for the truck and trailer at an event near you soon.

Sometimes I get messages that hit me squarely between the eyes with openness and honestly. Such is the email that I just received this morning from a Kennel in Southwest Asia. One of the handlers that I’ve been corresponding with sent me a very kind message thanking MWDTSA for all that has been done for his Kennel while deployed. As I looked at some of his photos, it was clear that he treasures his dogs. The comment accompanying this photo was “All that work just to get his KONG…the things humans take for granted.” It struck me as very profound.

In this photo, there are folks showing off the shirts, KONGs and dog treats that were sent their way. I think Sam is impressed with the KONG. LOL. Love this photo.

307645_10200216680799716_1425435431_n   Adam, buddies and Sam enjoying the care package goodies

Well I must tell you that the shirts were a hit!

I tell you, I have been so appreciative of your support and I will hold
your organization dear to my heart and will always remember you. Thank you
again and will definitely keep in touch!

I will give each of our handlers at my kennels your info for sure!


Caribou Coffee Pick up 006“A cup of coffee shared with a friend is happiness tasted and time well spent.” The wonderful folks at Caribou Coffee in Woodstock, GA are living proof. They and their customers donated over 635 bags of Caribou Coffee for our Care Packages.

We are getting rave reviews from the handlers for the coffees already received and are continuing to send out more. Our big break was meeting the vivacious and very dog friendly manager, Jacqui, shown below with the sign announcing the drive and a bag of Reindeer blend.

Caribou Coffee Pick up 008As a thank you, Jerry presented Jacqui with a plaque to go in their bustling store. I’ve never seen a coffee house this packed every time we stop by. Thanks for what your company, your staff and your customers donated to our dog teams! On behalf of all of the handlers that we support, MWDTSA thanks you.

Miss Lucca, MWDTSA Hero dog from 2006, will be featured in the Rose Bowl Parade, according to her handler, Chris Willingham. Enjoy some of these great photos of Lucca at work and in retirement. Be sure to look back a couple of postings in our Blog! to see the video of her playing in the snow. What a girl!

2 Chris and Lucca July 2007 3Rodriguez Lucca and Willingham a 4 Lucca at the beach 5 Lucca in Finland

Well, “old” being relative. This sweetheart is Courtney. As a high school senior, she did a year of volunteer work with MWDTSA. During that time, she designed a great T Shirt for us and the same design has just been translated to the coffee mug below.

Home on Christmas break from college, Courtney asked if she could come over and help with any tasks that we needed. I had a couple more care packages with coffee to get shipped out and we also folded and bagged the recent order of MWDTSA Night Vision T Shirts.

Courtney 013 a_edited-1One of the ideas that we’re working on is possibly partnering with a motorcycle or car dealership to see if we can get some donated “tire” toys, like the one shown below.

The back view of the Night Vision shirt.

Courtney 007 Courtney 017

We partnered with a school in Paterson, NJ and received some adorable artwork and cards to send to some of the handlers. These were all great and I only had time to scan a few of them because I wanted to get them sent out right way. You can see how creative the finished product was. The top scan is front of this card with a dog saying “I have to chase her” and the female dog wearing a wig, shoes, clothes and carrying a “latte”. What a hoot!


I loved this one, too, because the soldier and the young boy are happy and holding hands. The plea on all of the cards was “Please write back” so I hope that some of the recipients will do so. I just love this one.


And talk about a brilliant color scheme for winter. I love this female snow woman. The lashes and the hair are adorable.


The kids were thinking warm thoughts to send over to the handlers for the winter and a lot of their warm thoughts turned to lattes and hot chocolates, like this doggy with a steaming cup of warm brew. Great colors and a beautiful, heartfelt job.


In addition to the cards, these kids wrote some really cool letters, but I thought I would save those for the handlers to read once the cards arrive. Here is another great card to sum up the mission: USA Dogs!


Please note that some of the kids did use their names on the cards so if you see “smudges” that is where they have been removed. Enjoy the cards and we can’t wait to get more cards and letters from kids to include in our next round of care packages!

Thanks so much for all of these great, great cards. What fun!

US Marine Corps Cpl. Brandon Mann with automatic scope and canine partner Ty.

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brandon Mann uses his automatic rifle’s scope to scan the area while providing security with his military working dog, Ty, around the villages of Sre Kala and Paygel in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Feb. 17, 2012. Mann, a military working dog handler, and Ty, an improvised explosive device detection dog, are assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.   DoD photo by Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez, U.S. Marine Corps. (Released)

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Cailin walking Fons

Cailin walking Fons

Fons’ new playmate is proud that she can walk her dog in heel position.

Fons denies he drank the milk....I'm innocent

What milk?  I don’t remember seeing any milk.

Fons with his KONG toy

Fons wouldn’t leave his KONG toy.  He couldn’t believe he could have it whenever he wanted.

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Last morning at the military kennel before Fons headed to his new home.

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Hubby loved playing with these dogs.  A special new KONG toy for a special new life in retirement.

Lucca and Chris on a search and knock

Photos immediately above and below by SrA Eric Harris.

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Chris Willingham, assigned to the U.S. Army's 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, rewards his dog, Lucca

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Chris Willingham, assigned to the U.S. Army’s 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, rewards his dog, Lucca, after finding a training aid in a training house at Camp Diwaniyah, Iraq, Feb. 18, 2009. Willingham and his fellow dog handlers joined soldiers from the 8th Division Iraqi Army for a training day in order to help the Iraqi soldiers get comfortable working with dogs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Eric Harris/Released)

Lucca at the beach

Lucca’s new life.

Rodriguez Lucca and Willingham a

Lucca and the two important men in her life.

Lucca enjoying the gardens

Lucca exploring her new life.

These photos are additional photos that go with the story about Lucca in the September issue of Kennel Talk. If you haven’t received your copy, you may register for a free subscription at

Cpl. Seth Sheppard and military canine Fenji

Cpl. Seth Sheppard, military police canine handler, Military Police Support Company, I Marine Expeditionary Force, lifts his dog, Fenji, out of the cab of a truck during a vehicle inspection prior to a fuel run in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, May 13. The military working dog is trained to detect certain odors that could indicate a threat to American forces.