Print Header

RNZAF Military Working Dog Handlers Graduate

New Military Working Dog Handler AC Liam Elder with his dog 'Uro'

New Military Working Dog Handler AC Liam Elder with 'Uro'

The three new Military Working Dog (MWD) Handlers are:

AC Liam Elder (from New Plymouth)

AC Trent Norman (from Gisborne) and

AC Terina Naden (also from Gisborne)

The RNZAF has a small MWD unit, which is used for Force Protection—security of the air base and aircraft, or security of RNZAF units when deployed.

Aircraftman Terina Naden had been keen to join the MWD unit but, she said, when introduced to Isla, the dog she trained with: "It was a power struggle between the dog and me for the first couple of weeks."

For the MWD, training is in fact ‘play’, the Handlers use toys to gain the dog’s interest but the goal is to transfer the dog’s interest to the Handler.

AC Liam Elder explained that "the Handler has to learn the dog’s characteristics; the dog is in fact a weapon; most definitely NOT a pet."

By the end of the Course, AC Trent Norman said, the handlers can control the dog without a lead, and it will obey commands, go over various obstacles, and show its trust in its Handler.

The three new Handlers demonstrated the serious role of the MWD: an armed intruder appeared and when he failed to obey instructions from the Force Protection personnel, the dog was unleashed and, despite (blank) gunfire, tackled the intruder. The MWD remained on alert in the guard position as the intruder was restrained and searched.

The RNZAF MWD Handlers form a small close community; once training for dog and handler is completed, they will keep up the pace and interest for the dogs.

AC Trent Norman said he was very proud to have completed the course and he is now looking forward to taking his dog on patrol as part of the RNZAF’s base security.

The RNZAF Force Protection dog teams not only work at RNZAF Base Auckland but also deploy overseas on various exercises, and they can expect to be called on during operational deployments.

Return to the Feature Summary