Friday, February 1, 2013

Our War Hero is finally home

"Sit" quickly became, "I think I'll just take a break"
It is almost hard to believe, but the much-awaited day of bringing our war hero home is finally here.  Military Working Dog (MWD) Lando retired from a very full and courageous career with a beautiful ceremony, which ended with his leash being handed to our incredibly excited family.

Big R and I decided back in October that adopting Lando would be a perfect fit for our family.  The process took quite a bit longer than even the MP's anticipated. They were hoping he'd easily be a part of our family by Thanksgiving, but 4-6 weeks quickly turned into several months.  Worried the "powers-at-be" were doubting our abilities to care for Lando, in actuality, the review process is put in place to make sure the dog is fit for adoption.  This is a lengthy process that is taken very seriously.  Luckily for us, Lando is an easy-mannered, well-trained and obedient sweetheart.  Despite his military history, he appears to have suffered no PTSD or any other issues related to his service.

Lando's retirement ceremony was SO cool.  I can think of no better way to describe it.  We have been excited beyond words since we found out last week that the ceremony was scheduled for today.  The entire MP detachment company assigned to the working dogs, and a few of our closest military friends, were there to see him retire in style.
Lando taking a snooze during the National Anthem
During the ceremony, MWD Lando was presented with an Army Achievement Medal for his exemplary service.  And his achievements really are pretty incredible.  He was born in September of 2001, and Lando entered training for military service in December of 2003.  After his training, he was stationed here in Germany where he was attached to different MP companies until his retirement today. During his career as a MWD, Lando deployed four times (to Afghanistan, Kosovo, and twice to Iraq), where he supported Soldiers with his explosive detection capabilities.  Lando was present in over 300 Combat missions where he discovered a total of 15 explosive caches.  Impressive, right?  It gets even better...  In addition to his deployments, Lando also provided support for the U.S. Secret Service including protections of the Secretary of State, Vice President, and the President of the United States.  Big R's favorite of Lando's accomplishments though is that he was selected as "Top Dog" in the Patrol work category of the 2008 USAREUR Military Working Dog competition.  I'm proud of him and I just barely met the 'ol boy!

Lando proudly showing off his medal
Achievement Medal, Certificate of Adoption,
and retirement ceremony pamphlet
At the end of the ceremony, they asked us to join them on stage to present us with the Certificate of Adoption and to thank us for volunteering to give Lando a safe and happy home for retirement.  I don't think anyone in the room would have argued that this dog has earned every minute of lazy time on our couch.

We were all too happy to take his leash, especially little r
It was clear that Lando was going to be missed
Lando is the biggest sweetheart!
...and he loves his toys
I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship :) 
Once we finally made it home, Lando instantly made himself comfortable.  For a dog that has lived in a kennel nearly all his life, he was probably overwhelmed with the comforts of a warm home with a snuggly bed. Our other furry creatures are getting along pretty well. Poor Lucy isn't sure what hit her, but she's quickly coming around. And Sergeant, well, he's a dog-lover so there was never any fear there.  We were happy that Lando took to the cats right away.  If anything he seems relatively indifferent, so our fears of the cats being chased or harassed or even EATEN were easily dispelled.

Little r did all he could to help Lando feel at home right away.  He helped me bring out the basket of Rani's old toys, and show them all to his new friend.  Lando loves them all.  I think his favorite right now though is cuddling with Big R on the couch.

One toy...
...and little r decided he needed ALL of the toys...
I think Lando just found his favorite place in our home
We are beyond excited to have not only a dog again, but to have adopted such an incredible new friend.  I hope he loves living here with us as much as we are going to enjoy having him as part of our family.  I also hope he's ready for a relaxing but very fun retirement.  Although he's seen more of Europe than most of us could in a lifetime, we are looking forward to having his companionship on our wild family adventures. 

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