Dogs. Not only are they man’s best friend, but they are one of the most committed working forces in America to date. When it comes to the military, dogs have worked alongside their human counterparts since as early as the 1800s. However, they weren’t officially recognized as members of the armed services until March 13, 1942, when Dogs for Defense was established. This private organization acted as a recruiting system for the military’s first official K-9 corps.
Since then, the military has experimented with the employment of many different dog breeds. The most commonly used breeds these days are the Belgian Malinois, German Shepherd, and Labrador Retriever. But at Naval Station Norfolk, there’s a new rising star in the working dog world: Tina, the Jagdterrier.
The 4-year-old pooch is making big strides in detection for the security forces on base. Her tiny stature has given her a unique advantage in the field. She’s able to get into tight spaces that her larger counterparts would typically struggle with.
“Tina is special because she’s so tiny,” said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Molly Crawford, Tina’s handler. “If we were to go into tight spaces like a submarine or a ship, it’s so much easier to take a 16-pound terrier, compared to a 70-pound German Shepherd.”
The pair has worked together for five months now, continuously training and refining Tina’s unique set of skills. Her breed was originally used as hunting dogs in Germany, which gives Tina a naturally strong drive to perform well during training and missions alike.
Thankfully, Tina and MA1 Crawford have not been called out to any dangerous missions yet. But if the occasion should ever come, there is comfort in knowing Tina will be ready to help.
As unique as Tina may be though, MA1 Crawford emphasized that she is no more important than any of the other hard-working pups the Navy has employed.
“I would never say that one dog’s [mission] is more important than the other,” she said. “I think that there’s a reason for each and every dog on this installation or in the military working dog program, and they’re all important. Her small size doesn’t mean that she’s any less or more important.”
Overall, Tina has been a great addition to the working dog family at Naval Base Norfolk. As tiny as she may be, she still manages to keep up with the big dogs and constantly proves that the smallest dogs can have the biggest drive.