MWD Blek returns to Maxwell after IED attack
Back at the kennel at Maxwell Air Force Base, military working dog Blek, a 7-year-old German Sheppard, recuperates at the feet of Tech. Sgt. Ryan Veith, the 42nd Security Forces Squadron kennel master. Blek suffered permanent hearing loss as a result of the IED detonation and will be retired. (Courtesy photo)
MWD Blek returns to Maxwell after IED attack

by Carl Bergquist
Air University Public Affairs

10/8/2010 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Blek, the 7-year-old German Sheppard injured last month at the side of his handler in Afghanistan, has returned to the 42nd Security Forces Squadron kennel at Maxwell Air Force Base. Because of his injuries, Blek will be retired and put up for adoption.

Tech. Sgt. Ryan Veith, 42nd Security Forces Squadron kennel master, said Blek is recovering well, despite the loss of his hearing, and everyone is happy to have him back.

"I for one am thrilled to have him back because it's one step closer to recovering from that moment of destruction in Afghanistan," he said. "The outward scars will heal, but the inside emotional scares will probably take longer for both of them."

The sergeant said Blek suffered some shrapnel damage to the left side of his mouth, and slight damage to the area just above his right eye. The explosion took out both his eardrums and he has permanently lost his hearing. Because of that, he will be put up for adoption. Sergeant Olson said he plans to fill out the paperwork to be placed on the list of those who would like to adopt Blek.

"We were notified (Sept. 26) that Blek had arrived at Dover Air Force Base, Del., and was good to go, so we flew up the base to pick him up," Sergeant Veith said. "Blek did well on the five-hour commercial flight back to Maxwell. The airline and Homeland Security personnel treated us very well, escorting us to the ramp to get him on the aircraft, and he spent the flight laying on my feet or hugging my leg."

Sergeant Veith said he and one of Blek's former handlers, Tech Sgt. Mark Delcambre, received permission from the 42nd SFS commander and the program manager for the U.S. Air Force Military Working Dog program at Lackland AFB, Texas, to take Blek home with them at night.

"Blek is on medications and needs constant observation, and we also have to watch for signs of traumatic brain injury," Sergeant Veith said. "Fortunately, this is the third MWD I have had in my home, and my family members are used to them being there. Permission must be obtained to take them home, but it is good since Blek is getting exposed to a family environment. He sleeps in the bedroom with me and my wife."

He said when the Montgomery Police Department dog handlers learned Blek was coming home, they called the squadron to ask to help with his return.

"MPD handlers said it was the least they could do to provide Blek a police escort from the airport to Maxwell," Sergeant Veith said. "Dog handlers are a close community, and they really feel like he is a wounded brother."

He said key leadership of the 42nd SFS was on hand when Blek arrived in Montgomery, and the effort to get him home involved a lot of people.

"From the people overseas to the veterinarian, SFS members and kennel master at Dover to the Windgate ladies here at Maxwell who got us the best flight reservations they could on such short notice, everyone did a great job," Sergeant Veith said.