45th SFS MWD handlers give back to community through Cub Scout Outreach Program

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Zoe Thacker
  • 45th Space Wing Public Affairs

Kids begin thinking about ‘what they want to be when they grow up’ early in life. Some may say they want to become an astronaut, doctor, princess or firefighter –with so many options, it can be difficult to choose. But for a Cub Scout pack based in Viera, Fla., after a K-9 demonstration Oct. 7, 2019, from 45th Space Wing Defenders – their newest dream job may just be a military working dog handler for the U.S. Air Force.


“I just recently PCS’d to Patrick [Air Force Base] and my eight-year-old son joined a new cub scout pack in Viera,” said Senior Master Sgt. Sara Lane, 920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron superintendent and organizer of the demonstration. “I was looking at ways to use my connections here on base to give the boys a fun experience in interacting with different career fields. The scouts have a belt loop, or merit badge, for critter care in which they have to make a list of everything they do to care for their pet.”


I thought it would be a great opportunity for the K-9 handlers to teach the boys what they have to do for their dogs every day to ensure they are healthy and kept safe. I thought it would also be a great opportunity for Airmen to interact with the younger community and demonstrate some of their training techniques, said Lane.


Staff Sgt. Frances Gunderson, Staff Sgt. Akeen McKinnon and Staff Sgt. Randal Williams, and their military working dog Digo, loaded up and traveled to Viera’s Clubhouse Park for their demonstration.


During the demonstration, the handlers and their MWD’s performed various actions including controlled aggression and patrol work.


While to some onlookers, it may have just looked like a fun demonstration to entertain a pack of Cub Scouts, our Defenders saw more.


“It is important for us to show kids how amazing and fulfilling a job can actually be,” said Staff Sgt. Gunderson.


While not patrolling the base and surrounding beaches, searching vehicles at our gates or training to make sure handler and dog are on top of their game at all times – our MWD handlers make time regularly to interact with and educate the local community on what they do.


We want to show the community why we have the best job in the Air Force, said Staff Sgt. Gunderson. 


“It was neat and funny to watch the Airmen get bit and fall on the floor! I want to work with military working dogs to see how it feels to get bit,” said Evan Lane, one of the eight-year-old Cub Scouts in attendance.