By Staff Sgt. Rebeccah Woodrow, 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 22, 2019
Military Working Dog Cigan lays down during his retirement ceremony at Aviano Air Base, Italy, July 19, 2019. MWD Cigan has worked at Aviano since September 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rebeccah Woodrow)
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jesse Goens, 31st Security Forces Squadron commander, and Megan Lasica stand with Military Working Dog Cigan during a retirement ceremony at Aviano Air Base, Italy, July 19, 2019. MWD Cigan received an Air Force Achievement Medal for his work since 2015 at Aviano AB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rebeccah Woodrow)
An Air Force Achievement Medal and dog collar for Military Working Dog Cigan sit atop a table during a retirement ceremony at Aviano Air Base, Italy, July 19, 2019. MWD Cigan has worked at Aviano since September 2015 and will now go on to live with Brig. Gen. Daniel T. Lasica and the Lasica family. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rebeccah Woodrow)
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Shane Massie, 31st Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, and the Lasica family greet MWD Cigan after a retirement ceremony at Aviano Air Base, Italy, July 19, 2019. Massie was MWD Cigan's most recent handler but will be passing on Cigan into the care of Brig. Gen. Daniel T. Lasica and his family. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rebeccah Woodrow)
July 19 marked Military Working Dog Cigan’s last day as a crucial part of the 31st Security Forces Squadron K-9 team. He has worked at Aviano Air Base since September 2015.
If you are not yet familiar with these four-legged military members, they expertly assist their human SFS K-9 handlers with drug and explosives detection, along with criminal deterrence.
Training for MWDs involves completing commands given by their handlers, learning to run through or around difficult obstacles, and of course, correct defensive techniques. Day in and day out, handlers and their dogs train in order to protect the base as well as each other.
Much like their two-legged partners, MWDs all have different personalities and bring something unique to their team.
“MWD Cigan was one of our most energetic MWDs and was always eager to work,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jerry Quintanilla, 31st SFS MWD section kennel master.
Since they are considered members of the military, MWDs can have military retirement ceremonies to mark the end of their official duty and to be celebrated for their hard work.
Quintanilla said, “I think it is amazing when one of our MWDs retires. I personally feel that retirement is one of the greatest rewards an MWD can receive.”
Spending much of his life in the military, Cigan will now go on to serve another important purpose.
“After Cigan’s retirement, he will be able to live out the remainder of his years with his new loving family in his new home,” Quintanilla explained.
Cigan’s new home will be with Brig. Gen. Daniel Lasica and the Lasica family.
“We’ve been interested in adopting a dog, specifically a MWD, for a while now,” said Lasica, “Everything lined up perfectly for this to happen.”
Lasica went on to explain the reason behind wanting to adopt a MWD.
“It’s an awesome opportunity to serve an animal Airman and Veteran and a great opportunity to give back and honor their sacrifice,” he said.
MWDs dutifully assist their K-9 handlers, but retired ones go on to assist their new families – no clocking in or chasing criminals required.
“Adding an extra family member has been great for us, especially the kids. We’re excited to include him on our future trips,” Lasica said. “This adoption has brought us closer as a family. We hope to give Cigan a good, relaxed life in a loving environment that will be fun for him.”
After logging in almost four years at Aviano AB, MWD Cigan can retire with his furry head held high into the care of a different kind of military family.