Paw prints: ‘We treat them like airmen:’ Military dogs work as partners


With a wide slobbery smile and a wagging tail, military working dog Csubi sat in attention as he got his photo taken in front of the American flag on Aug 30.

Like any airmen who’s made it through basic, each dog within the unit will have their picture taken to commemorate their achievements, said Cannon Air Force Base Staff Sgt. and Kennel Master Allison Boehler.

While most dogs are running around in their backyards or barking at the closest squirrel, Csubi the 3-year-old German Shepherd had just been certified as an active service member after nearly a year being stationed at Cannon, Boehler said.

“We treat them like airmen. Us airmen have professional photos taken too, so our dogs are gonna get professional photos as well. We don’t see them as equipment, we see them as another airmen that we work with. They are our partner,” Boehler said.

Boehler said Cannon received Csubi last December and he has been working to be certified with a handler since then.

Jacob Crawshaw, a senior airman and Csubi’s handler, spends nearly every day with Csubi training, guarding the base and seeking potential threats in the area. He said Csubi is filled with a boundless amount of energy even after serving in the Air Force for 2 1/2 years.

“I love him, he’s like my best friend. We spend every day together, five days a week, all day. Constantly going out and training with him,” Crawshaw said.

Military working dogs are chosen at a young age and begin their training at Lackland Air Force Base at San Antonio, Texas, Boehler said. She said they typically go for puppies that show high amounts of energy and willingness to interact with people. Despite being selected to serve, the dogs still get to live out their “puppy phase” through a foster system for a year before preparing for training.

“They toss toys inside a puppy litter and see what kind of dog is going to have that drive to play with the toy. If you have a dog who could really care less about playing with the toy or whatever reward, they’re probably not gonna be a good fit,” Boehler said.

Boehler said Cannon’s entire k-9 unit is trained in detection capabilities and bite work, which is when the dog has to guard off against intruders or possible threats. Csubi and his fellow canine airmen not only protect the base 24/7, but they also attend community service events to educate about different services the Air Force has to offer.

Boehler said though the dogs who serve on base don’t have “official ranks,” Cannon always makes sure to recognize their companions’ efforts and give them the ranking titles they deserve. For Csubi his rank is a staff sergeant, according to Boehler.

“It’s more of a tradition, just so that way we are always reminded that our dog is not equipment, that they are our partner and we treat them as such,” Boehler said.


(c) 2023 Eastern New Mexico News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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