MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- A Marine Corps Military Working Dog needs a new home where he can enjoy his much-deserved retirement. Since 1993 the kennels located behind the Base Provost Marshal's Office here has been Lars' home and sniffing out narcotics has been his job. But his nose will no longer serve the Corps, instead it might help him find a buried bone or his favorite chew toy at his new home.
Lars, an 11-year-old Dutch Shepard, is retiring after 11 years of active duty service to his country and Corps.
As a veteran of his profession Lars has earned the respect of the Marine dog handlers here, said Sgt. Nester G. Antoine Jr., kennel master. He is almost like a robot and knows exactly what he needs to do and when to do it.
"He is very obedient and listens to your commands," Antoine said. "A lot of times he knows what to do before you tell him."
Around the kennel Marines refer to Lars as the "Trainer." This old salty dog is used to train the rookie dog handlers when they arrive. According to Antoine he is an easy dog to handle and makes training painless for new Marines.
Along with being trained to find narcotics Lars was also trained to attack when given the command, said Antoine. However, he completed extension training over a year ago, which makes him unresponsive to attack commands. They still frequently test Lars with attack commands to ensure he does not respond to them. He also has not undergone aggression training for over two years.
"Lars is a very relaxed dog," Antoine said. "Now the only time he is likely to attack someone is in protecting himself and his owners."
For almost three years now Lars, who is about 77 in dog years, has been unable to meet the strict Marine Corps requirements to maintain his title as a military working dog. Which according to Antoine is common for dog of this age. When a dog can no longer properly perform his assigned job it is retired from the Corps and eligible for adoption.
Although no fee will be charged to adopt Lars, individuals or families interested in adopting him will have to fill out an application and be interviewed by Antoine. Lars is leaving the Corps, but those who he leaves behind, such as Antoine, want to ensure he will go to a good home where he will be loved and looked after. All the applicants who want to adopt Lars will be screened and the best suitable owner will be chosen.
"An ideal family for Lars is a big family with kids," Antoine said, "because he loves attention and to play. The family needs to have time to spend with him.
"Adopting a working dog such as Lars has its benefits," Antoine said. "He doesn't have to be house trained so his owners don't have to worry about him destroying their home. He also knows how to sit and stay on command and will be easy for kids to handle."
Lars is an older dog and needs plenty of rest for his elderly bones and his owners need to keep that in mind, said Antoine.
Prior to leaving the base with Lars, his new owners will be instructed on how to give him commands and how to exercise the dog properly so he stays in shape, said Antoine. They will also give the new owners a couple of months supply of free dog food, because Lars is an older dog and requires a certain diet.
All Lars's shots and vaccinations are current and he will be given a final physical and dental cleaning prior to his adoption.
"Lars served his country and is part of the Marine Corps," said Antoine. "He deserves a good home and loving family that will take care of him."
Although Lars will no longer serve the Corps, he will always have a small reminder of his service ? a tattoo in his left ear identifying him as a Marine Corps Military Working Dog.
Individuals interested in adopting Lars can contact Antoine at 639-5184.