SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (KGUN) — An ex-soldier and a hard-headed Belgian Malinois compete in the new Channing Tatum movie called Dog.
The U.S. Army values Malinois for their energy, loyalty and intelligence, and at Fort Huachuca, the human and canine soldiers get along splendidly.
At Fort Huachuca, Nina is a Belgian Malinois, similar to the dog in the movie. She has plenty of energy, but is calm and laser focused on obeying her handler Specialist Shawn Buie.
"It's kind of like another soldier in a sense, you know, you have your leadership who tells you what to do and they're the same thing," he shared. "Well, it's more of like a set of friendship, but yes, we tell them what orders we give them. We tell them what to do, when to do it, but they love working for it.”
The obstacles are fun for Nina but they also prepare her for situations she might face on the job. She’s trained to sniff out narcotics, attack on command, as well as remain calm around strangers.
That confidence and control comes from rapport and respect between handler and dog, built not from barking commands, but from friendship.
"They don't get the normal dog life that your at-home dog does. So we'll take them out here and just treat them like a normal dog, just play fetch and just love all up on them," Specialist Buie explained. "That way, they get that love, but then they also know when we go out for the day it's serious time and we got to work, and they work for all that love."
Specialist Buie grew up in an Army family and joined the U.S. Army with his goal to be a dog handler with Military Police.
He says it’s a specialty that can carry him through a full Army career, saying Nina’s career might last eight or maybe eleven years. She’s five now. When she starts to slow down, the Army will work to give her the pleasant retirement a veteran deserves.
"We try our very best to get them out and go to a handler so that way they can just live on what we call it," he added. "We call it Fort Couch, and they just live on the couch the rest of their life and just spend it out."
But for now, Nina lives to work and to please the friend who works with her.
Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 30 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing email@example.com or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.