Ceremony honors Military Working Dogs – Alabama News

Ceremony honors Military Working Dogs – Alabama News

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Military Working Dog Sam retires, Elza remembered at Maxwell AFB
Rebecca Burylo

Staff Sgt. Brandon Bixby’s wife and son were always delighted when he brought his Military Working Dog Sam home for a visit.  

Off the job, he was just another member of the Bixby family.

“Sam is awesome. My son loves him. He’ll play with him and lounge around on him and wipes his eyes when he gets gunk in them and takes him outside all the time,” Bixby said. 

On Friday, Sam became a permanent part of the Bixby family as his handler officially adopted him during a joint retirement and memorial service at the canine kennels at Maxwell Air Force Base,  

Sam, an 8-year-old Dutch Shepherd, worked as an explosives detector. He is a veteran of  several deployments and thousands of hours of military security sweeps. 

Sam’s retirement marked a happy ending to a bittersweet ceremony – one that included saying farewell to another canine colleague, Elza.

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A picture of Elza was displayed next to an empty crate. An empty metal food dish was placed inside and a loose chain leash hung on the outside. It was a visual reminder of what the team had lost. 

Nine-year-old Elza would have joined Sam in retirement and was set to be adopted by her handler, 42nd Security Forces Squadron Senior Airman Clinton Gregory. However, cancer was discovered in one of her eyes in May. And, although…

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