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Posted: April 6, 2018 10:26 a.m.
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Bomb-sniffing dog prepares for retirement

Spc. Elizabeth White/

Serrano Fuentes, a working dog handler with American K-9 Detection Services, poses with his working dog, Hulk, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on March 23. Fuentes and Hulk have worked together for seven years, traveling all across Afghanistan.

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BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - After 49 (dog) years of service, Hulk, a bomb detection dog for American K9 Detection Services (AMK9), will retire to a quiet life on a farm to live as a normal dog. Unlike most his canine companions, Hulk has traveled all over Afghanistan protecting U.S. military, coalition forces, contractors and civilians from explosive threats. 

Serrano Fuentes, a working dog handler for AMK9, received Hulk when Hulk was a one year old pup and has worked with him for seven years. Fuentes and Hulk have worked in many parts of Afghanistan, including Kandahar and Mazar-i-sharif, and now work with customs agents in Bagram Airfield.

“Our trainer [in San Antonio, Texas] chose our dog based on personality,” said Fuentes. “Hulk is a strong fellow. He’s a friendly guy but he can be mean, so we had to find the one that could handle that behavior.”

Bomb and drug-sniffing dogs are used to detect harmful chemicals and explosives in baggages and vehicles on bases. Contractors, such as Fuentes, work with Military Police to ensure safety of personnel on BAF.

“It’s been a safety precaution for pretty much everyone on BAF,” said Spc. Taylor Garen, a customs agent with the 236th Military Police Company, Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade. “They’re sniffing for bombs, drugs, anything that could potentially hurt us.”

Garen says that the dogs are the number one protection for the MP’s, especially since the customs agents also have to check the bags.

Hulk’s service extends beyond the checks he provides, he also plays a critical role in the morale of the Soldiers he works around. For the 236th MP Co. Soldiers, Hulk is a doggy-breath of fresh air.

“Back home most of us are dog owners. I have a little, itty-bitty dog at home,” said Spc. Tera Jones, a customs agent with the 236th MP Co. “To see this big ol’ dog is pretty awesome, it’s a morale booster overall.” 

His short visits to terminals provides a much needed relief from their daily duties. After Hulk finishes his work checking the baggage, he loves to play catch and be petted by the Soldiers.

“Hulk is a big cheese ball,” said Jones. “He loves to be running around, he comes up to everybody and he’s very social.”

Fuentes said he’s happy Hulk is retiring. After working together for so long, Fuentes and Hulk are inseparable. He plans to adopt Hulk and take him back home with him to Chile, where Hulk can have an easy life on the farm with Fuentes and his other pets.

“Hulk already gives so much. Seven years, working all over the place,” said Fuentes. “You spend so much time working with your dog and you eventually get attached to that dog.”

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