Michael Fite Dog Handler

My husband in his MWD school class photo with MWD Rex (not the same as in the movie)

The above image is my husband. When he’s away from his family, this is what he does to support us. This is a passion of his and a love. The movie Max came out last year and immediately I thought he’d want to see it. He sweetly turned me down saying that he didn’t want to see it at all. Frankly, I thought the entire kennel would want to see how Hollywood portrays their real life jobs, but according to him, no. I can respect that. Why? Because I don’t watch any movies or television shows about military wives (with the exception of one season of Army Wives) either. I’m not saying they inadequately depict how I live daily but I am saying that sometimes it’s best to see other things from time to time. I already see military living every single day just like he sees the kennel life every single day.

Military living gets portrayed quite nicely on the screen. It’s true about the friends (and enemies) made, the way the military member has to be pulled away from their family at any given time, and the way homecomings happen (for the most part). However, it’s not for the faint of heart. We go through long periods of having to be without our loved one. We go through periods or re-immersion when our loved ones return, while realizing that each person has changed during the service member’s absence but never knowing how much or its effects.  We go through sweet moments, moments the military member wishes to have experienced and moments we’d all rather forget.

Max also showed one of the traits MWDs (Military Working Dogs) give to their handlers: loyalty.  Loyalty between MWDs and their handlers are major whether at home or at war. Until their time together ends, the MWDs and their handlers are side-by-side day in and day out learning and growing together. What most would perceive as having fun and enjoying themselves is actually preparation to bring them home despite any situation they face.  It’s that same loyalty that extends to their families as well.

Michael and Lesko2

My husband and MWD Lesko

I should know because the MWD in the above picture was not only my husband’s partner but also our home buddy too once he retired. His loyalty to us was unwavering and although he has gone to MWD heaven now, the memories of his loyalty and life still remain with us. While I’m uncertain about us adopting another MWD (we have a dog and two cats so…um…we’ll see), it is something I’m definitely open to doing again. The kid loves each dog no matter how mean they are and is constantly trying to be my husband’s human partner when training them. Just like the MWDs, the kid tries not to leave her daddy’s side  when his canine partner is around.

Michael Quachiro and the Chicky B

Michael, Quachiro and The Chicky B

Max the movie brought a lot more out of me in emotions than I thought I had. Yes, I cried when Max’s handler passed on. It brought back memories of times when we have heard of handlers passing. If anyone has seen the movie and remembers the footnote at the end of the movie where it states how many handlers have passed since 2003, understand this: the dog handler community is very small. So in his eight years of being a handler, my either husband actually knows or is one degree away from handlers who know of a fellow handler’s passing. As with all military families, we never want to see the committee who has to share awful news with the family left behind. I’ve had friends who, while their loved ones were deployed, requested that no one ring their doorbell because of that reason. They wanted knocks only until their loved one was home safe. Some people will go their entire lives not ever needing to make or honor such a request, but it’s been my experience since living this military life.

Until next time, enjoy your Sunday and just know that sometimes heroes come with four feet, fangs and loyalty like none other. When they come home, they never stop being heroes. They start living the life they deserve because they’re family.

(left: My husband and Lesko at home; right: My husband and MWD Allen at work)

K-9 Handlers photo