Email Received From Jennifer Vasquez,  Aug 16, 2003

Rambo was born on 1 Jan 91 and entered the Air Force for his "boot camp" on 16 Apr 92.  He graduated and was sent to Vandenberg (his one and only base) on 1 Jun 93. 

Rambo had 10 handlers to include SSgt and SrA...Wenner, Scruggs, Barrios, Walker, Kamora, Paille, Vecchi, Antoni and finally myself.  If you ask any of these people they would tell you what a wonderful animal he was.  He had a personality all his own.

Rambo has served our country and our squadron with great dignity.  He has been on 12 secret service missions in support of the following people: President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, Pope John Paul the II, and the King and Queen of Jordan.

He is also a veteran of these operations:
Jan-Mar 95 Operation Sea Signal/Guantanmo Bay, Cuba
May-Aug 97 Operation Southern Watch/Eskan Village, Saudi Arabia
Feb-Jun 98 Operation Southern Watch/Ali Al Salem, Kuwait
Apr-Aug 99 Operation Desert Thunder/Southern Watch/Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Oct 01-Jan 02 Operation Southern Watch/Ali Al Salem, Kuwait

He responded to the following places for bomb threats and/or Explosive Sweeps: Hearst Castle, Dos Pueblos School, U.S. Penitentiary, Housing,  and barracks.  Rambo and I cleared Santa Barbara Municipal Airport on 12 Sep 01 to aid in its re-opening.

Rambo was assigned to me on 30 Apr 01.  I remember asking TSgt Tiedge if I could PLEASE have another dog.  Rambo was old and stubborn and the first thing I had to do was go in his kennel and take his bowl from him because he was carrying it around in his mouth!  Then I took him out...I remember sitting in our training area and this dog with such old face just came up to me and laid his head on my shoulder and gave me kisses.  I just thought how could I not want him?  I have just become his world! 

Rambo's health started to go down hill when we returned from Kuwait in 02.His back legs weren't as steady as they had been and the 4 months in the desert probably didn't help this 11-year-old dog.  It was determined that Rambo was going to retire from the AF.  I started the adoption paperwork in the Spring of 02, and in Oct 02, Rambo came home! 

He adjusted wonderfully and was a pleasure to have in our family.  His health improved and I was sent TDY from Nov 02-Jun 03.  When I returned, Rambo looked a lot slower and was really showing his age.  He kept going being as good of a boy as ever.  I then left again TDY for 7 level school on 1 Aug-14 Aug.  My husband didn't want to worry me while I was gone, but Rambo was close to hitting rock bottom. 

When I returned, and looked in his eyes, you could tell he was ready.  He looked miserable, he wasn't walking right, his vision was extremely impaired, and he seemed so very sad. 

After a long night of deliberation and looking past selfishness and everlasting love, we made the decision to have him put down.  Yesterday, 15 Aug 03 at 1030 hrs, I watched my Partner, best friend, and companion fall asleep with his face in my hands like he has done so many times before...for the last time.

As a dog handler everyone wants to know if it is hard to give up your dog. As I sit here with tears streaming down my face I will tell you this.  Rambo touched my heart in the first five minutes that I had him.  I would not give up 1 sec of our time together even knowing now how much my heart hurts without him here now. 

What the rest of the world doesn't understand is that our K-9 partners are more than just dogs to us.  They are our lifelines, they can bring us home after a long day.  They will always be there, they will never back down and I trusted, and still trust my life with my partner even more than I would with a human. 

I was given a once in a lifetime opportunity.  I was able to have something that most handlers only dream of.  I was able to adopt my 1st dog and let him live in a nice warm house full of love and puppy treats and a Kong he could have whenever he wanted, and food other than Science Diet!  I got to see him be happy, and live, and enjoy his life.

If you ever talk to a handler from Vietnam and have to hear about how they had to leave there dogs behind and then tell them that you know a handler that was able to adopt hers...they will tell you how lucky I am. 

Some people ask us (handlers) why it is we went K-9.  In fact it is the first question the kennel master will ask you when you put in for your re-train.  Next time you see one of our dog teams in guardmount, on the road, or at your post, I want you to look at them.  They say that a bond is something that you can only feel with your dog...but I think it is something that everyone, K-9 or not, can see.  You see it in the way the dogs looks up at you with those eyes, and how they lean into you with their body, and how attentive they are when you speak just waiting to hear a word they can act on to please you.  That, is why I am a dog handler!  That devotion and love that we share is immeasurable. 

I will never forget Rambo, as many of you who knew him know what a great dog he was.  Myself, Frank and the other handlers know that one of Rambo's favorite past times was sleeping...if I wasn't moving...he was front feet apart, head down between...out like a light!  So yesterday after he had passed...he laid there and I told Frank...I wouldn't want to remember him any other way...front feet apart with his head down between. 

We had a nickname for him "brown dog".  We like to think that he is not really gone...so yesterday we said..."Brown dogs don't die...they just find new places to sleep!"....and that my friends...is it. 

Jennifer Vasquez

Photo Above: Jennifer with her new partner Duuk

Webmaster's Comment: Jennifer also adopted Duuk upon his retirement.

 

                      

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