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McConnell welcomes new four-legged defender

Senior Airman Sarah Pawlak, 22nd Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, holds MWD Sani back before pursuit and attack training Dec. 10, 2018, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. MWDs use this training to practice following and detaining suspects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michaela R. Slanchik)

Senior Airman Sarah Pawlak, 22nd Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, holds MWD Sani back before pursuit and attack training Dec. 10, 2018, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. MWDs use this training to practice following and detaining suspects. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michaela R. Slanchik)

Senior Airman Sarah Pawlak, 22nd Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, holds MWD Sani back during controlled aggression training Dec. 10, 2018, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. MWD Sani is a two-year-old Belgian Malinois new to McConnell’s team. He is in the initial stages of detection patrol dog training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michaela R. Slanchik)

Senior Airman Sarah Pawlak, 22nd Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, holds MWD Sani back during controlled aggression training Dec. 10, 2018, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. MWD Sani is a two-year-old Belgian Malinois new to McConnell’s team. He is in the initial stages of detection patrol dog training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michaela R. Slanchik)

Senior Airman Sarah Pawlak, 22nd Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, and MWD Sani search for the enemy during training Dec. 10, 2018, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. The Belgian Malinois has many unique abilities such as a 270 degree field of vision, ability to run up to 30 mph and jaw strength of nearly 200 pounds of pressure. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michaela R. Slanchik)

Senior Airman Sarah Pawlak, 22nd Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, and MWD Sani search for the enemy during training Dec. 10, 2018, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. The Belgian Malinois has many unique abilities such as a 270 degree field of vision, ability to run up to 30 mph and jaw strength of nearly 200 pounds of pressure. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michaela R. Slanchik)

MWD Sani from the 22nd Security Forces Squadron searches for the enemy during pursuit and attack training Dec. 10, 2018, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. During this training, an “enemy” will hide in the woods while the MWD searches for them and attacks their bite suit when found. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michaela R. Slanchik)

MWD Sani from the 22nd Security Forces Squadron searches for the enemy during pursuit and attack training Dec. 10, 2018, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. During this training, an “enemy” will hide in the woods while the MWD searches for them and attacks their bite suit when found. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michaela R. Slanchik)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- -- You may be able to smell a freshly-brewed pot of coffee when you walk into a room, but your household pup can smell just one drop of that coffee if submerged in a 55-gallon drum of water.

Most military working dog breeds have 200 million scent-retrieving cells in their nose, making their ability to detect narcotics and sniff explosives unmatched by humans.

Along with their superior sense of hearing, 270-degree field of vision, ability to run up to 30 mph, and crushing jaw strength of nearly 200 pounds of pressure, they’re able to deter crime and violence and locate individuals when called upon.

Humans simply aren’t capable of these traits, and that’s why the Air Force adopts K-9s and matches them with a trainer.

McConnell just recruited a brand new MWD named Sani, a two-year-old Belgian Malinois, to join the team. Senior Airman Sarah Pawlak, 22nd Security Force Squadron, has become his handler and will continue training him to be a detection patrol dog for the squadron.

Currently, an estimated 2,500 dogs just like Sani serve in the U.S. armed forces. With hundreds of these specialized MWD and trainer teams deploying overseas for missions at any given time, they must be trained and ready at all times ¬¬¬– just like Airmen.

Although MWDs are smart, driven and disciplined, there is always something to learn.

For now, the duo will train all day, nearly every day on the basics — his obedience, patrol work (bite work), pursuit and attack, searching, stand-off, detection and scouting for humans.

Once fully qualified, Sani and Pawlak will be ready to support any mission that comes their way, from clearing buildings to sniffing a path for national security.

“Working with Sani has been amazing,” said Pawlak. “He is such a new, young dog, and he’s teaching me so much about handling and training. Being able to see how much he learns and grows in such a short amount of time is my favorite part.”

Pawlak has been a handler for more than a year, with Sani being her second certified partner. He will accompany Pawlak on every mission as long as they are assigned together, just as a human partner would.

“MWDs are such an irreplaceable asset to the DOD,” said Pawlak. “There is no type of equipment that can detect explosives and narcotics like these dogs. On top of that, they are also a great psychological deterrent whether we are walking around or at the gate.”

MWDs have defended bases and ensured the safety of America and its allies for years now. When a hand-selected MWD team take on a mission, the protection capabilities are endless.