MWD Nina finds new home in lap of Vietman vet
By Airman 1st Class Emily E. Amyotte, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 02, 2015
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- From being a disciplined military working dog at Buckley Air Force Base to transitioning into a retired house pet, MWD Nina has found her new home in the lap of a Vietnam veteran.
Nina first arrived at Buckley much before any of the current handlers or dogs. At her time of leaving, she had been a part of the 460th Security Forces Squadron longer than anyone else.
Like all other Airmen, MWDs are placed in their job based on the needs of the Air Force; and the Air Force needed Nina to be a drug dog at Buckley.
As she grew into a working drug dog, Nina experienced many different handlers and partners.
One of her handlers, Staff Sgt. Rick Laird, 460th Security Forces Squadron MWD handler, said that regardless of Nina's unwillingness to be trained, her big heart made up for it all.
"By far she had one of the best personalities in the kennel," he said. "All she wanted to do was be with you and please you. She was a great big love bug. If you were her handler, it was like having a kid. It is one of the most amazing feelings you can have as a handler."
Even though Nina had some resistance to training, she still had her strong points, he said.
"One of her best tributes was handler protection," Laird said. "She would protect mom or dad to the fullest and she didn't hesitate at all. She was very good at that."
She spent 6 years on active duty before the handlers decided her duty to Buckley was complete. Nina, like all MWDs, went through a transition period of training and un-training to transition into retirement.
"If we know we have a dog coming up on retirement, we stop all bite work," Laird said.
"Bite work is very stressful on the dog's body so we want to alleviate that and get them out of the mindset of doing all of that altogether."
When MWDs retire, they do not continue living on the installation. Like all MWDs, Nina found her forever home with her adopter.
Her adopter, John "Rock" Rockefeller, retired Air Force Senior Airman, fell in love with Nina at first sight. Before the adoption was final, Rock visited Nina often so that they were accustomed to each other before she left to live with him.
"He came out maybe once or twice a week, every week, until all the paperwork was finalized," Laird added. "He played with her and got to build a bond with her, it was rather nice to see that."
"She's a great dog," Rockefeller said. "She's a real fireball, she's got a lot of energy."
Since Nina has joined Rock, he says they have both been able to help each other out in many ways.
"She is a great companion for me as she helps with my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," Rockefeller said. "The only way to get her closer to me is to get her surgically attached."
Nina has latched onto Rock and his wife and follows them like a shadow since she's joined their household.
"We are just a couple of old soldiers enjoying retirement," he added.