By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent
Tanja, a Belgian Malanois, was up until her retirement from
week, the longest serving military working dog in the Department of
Defense. With a 12-year career behind her, she's deployed five times. They were
impressive tours of duty that included uncovering IEDs and even stopping
vehicles from making off with "extremely
valuable" stolen classified documents.
Tanja, a patrol and detection dog with
the 366th Security Forces Squadron was stationed at Mountain Home Air Force
Base in Idaho. Her most recent handler, Tech.
Sgt. Roseann Kelly, says that despite Tanja's age, the dog was
still "kicking butt." During base patrol Tanja noticed a suspicious individual
and alerted others to him. When they got close, Kelly says, "he decided to leave instead of deal
Still, the tough
exterior didn't mean she was above a little extra comfort. Tanja wasn't
handling the cold weather like she used to so Kelly, who is adopting her
partner, made sure the dog wore sweaters to keep warm even though the other
handlers teased them. "I didn't care," Kelly insists, "because she liked
Rebecca Frankel's book about military working
dogs will be published by Atria Books in August 2013.
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton