Q&A with Military Working Dog Unit NSFs
//Report by Sherlyn Quek /Photos by Lionel Lee
Is it all work and no play for the SAF's canine soldiers? What happens to the dogs when they retire? NSFs from the Military Working Dog Unit (MWDU) answer these and more!
Nope, it's not just the Home Team who has a K-9 unit! The MWDU – part of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Military Police Command – has about 100 four-legged soldiers at any one time at the various camps and bases.
Protection dogs are usually German Shepherds or Belgian Malinois, while sniffer dogs are typically Labradors and Spaniels.
The former have a naturally imposing physique to deter potential threats, as well as strong protective instincts. The latter tend to be more docile and reliable, and have a keen sense of smell which make them ideal in detecting contraband substances.
Is it 24/7 work for the dogs? "While they're working dogs, they're dogs in nature," said Lance Corporal (LCP) Alexis Serge Faquet, 20.
"So we have to exercise them, and bring them out to play and make sure their morale is high because (they're) just like humans – we need our downtime and playtime as well."
"Being a dog handler is not just about handling one dog, it's being able to handle all the dogs," said fellow NSF LCP Saraven Ravi.
One of the challenges the 22-year-old faced, for instance, was getting used to large dogs such as German Shepherds. Over time with the help of his superiors and seniors in the unit, he managed to get accustomed to and bond with dogs like Arras who have strong protective instincts.
What will LCP Faquet miss most when he ORDs (reaches his Operationally Ready Date)? His buddy Storm, a 5-year-old Labrador Retriever who specialises in narcotics detection.
"I think I can speak on behalf of all of the other NSFs, that our eventual ORD is a bittersweet one because we'll be upset and sad to leave our best friends here."
And if you're wondering what happens to the dogs when they get too old to work? Fret not, the unit continues to take full care of all the retired dogs.
But if you're interested in giving these retired veterans a loving new home, visit go.gov.sg/mwdadoption to be part of the MWD Adoption Programme!
Wonder what a day in the life of a military dog is like? Join MWDU's sniffer dog, Storm, to find out!