Best Defense

Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: Kondi retires alongside soldiers at Fort Lee

By Rebecca Frankel Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent At the end of January, Virginia’s Fort Lee held one of its bi-monthly retirement ceremonies. So large was the crowd gathered that day it was "nearly standing room only." In addition to the eight servicemen being honored there was Kondi, the first MWD to be retired alongside ...

Mike Strasser/Army
Mike Strasser/Army

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent

At the end of January, Virginia’s Fort Lee held one of its bi-monthly retirement ceremonies. So large was the crowd gathered that day it was "nearly standing room only." In addition to the eight servicemen being honored there was Kondi, the first MWD to be retired alongside soldiers at Fort Lee. 

Kondi’s six-year career ended this year after laboring with the pains of arthritis became too much for the eight-year-old German shepherd. According to her handlers the pain was interfering with her ability to keep attention on the task at hand and she’d grown increasingly more interested in play than work.

However brief, Kondi’s time as a MWD was flush with impressive achievements. Back in her heyday this canine was a model detection dog with skills that "always exceeded the standards set by the Department of the Army and always resulted in a 98 percent first time certification rate with three different handlers."

In 2007, Kondi and then-handler Sgt. Jason Bird were named the top military working dog team after placing first in the narcotics detection event at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Military Working Dog Warrior Police Challenge of that year. (In this photo Kondi and Bird search for drugs at the 2007 competition.)

In the weeks following her retirement, Kondi has been settling in with her new family, the Jordans of Chapel Hill, NC. The Jordans, who were at the January ceremony, have been sending reports of her progress; Kondi is making friends in the neighborhood and enjoying being "spoiled." But it seems that sometimes even when you take the dog out of the military, you can’t always take the military out of the dog.

We were watching the NFL Pro Bowl when the National Anthem began to play,’ [said the Jordans]. ‘Kondi, who had been playing, stopped and sat "at attention." She sat staring straight ahead until the anthem was complete…At first, we didn’t know what she was doing — then it dawned on us, she was showing respect for her country.’"

In other MWD news, Buckley AFB in Colorado has officially opened its new K-9 kennels. I was lucky enough to visit the top-of-the-line facility back in December and I can say that the new digs – and the dogs — were looking pretty good. Congrats to kennel master Tech. Sgt. Edward Canell and his team.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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