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Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Marine family adopts working dog Kastor

By 1st Lt. Kyle Thomas | | May 24, 2012

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Monique Evangelista, the spouse of deployed Marine Sgt. Dennis Evangelista, adopted Kastor, a military working dog, May 14 from Corporal Dustin Jerome Lee Kennel aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.

“It’s the handlers who usually adopt the K-9s once they retire,” said Randy Jack, chief of police, MCLB Albany. “This time we have the opportunity to send a hero home to a Marine family.”

The Evangelistas were among several families who applied for ownership of the German Shepherd. In this instance, the adoption process took seven months, according to Jessie Smith, military working dog trainer, MCLB Albany.

“It’s special,” said Evangelista. “We’re not just getting a dog, we’re getting a dog that’s a hero. A dog that’s served in the Marine Corps just the same as my husband and I have and that means a lot to us. It means a lot that we can provide him with a home and he can spend whatever time he has left with us.”

Evangelista said she was surprised her family would be able to adopt a K-9 from the base.

“At first we didn’t know something like this was possible,” said Evangelista. “My husband found out from his lieutenant colonel and then we decided to look into it.”

For weeks leading up to the adoption, Evangelista spent time with Kastor at the kennel, letting him become more familiar with his new owner. The idea was to make the transition easier for the service dog.

Kastor, who has served as a military working dog for 11 years, has deployed to Iraq in support of ordnance disposal teams. This type of work included the removal of improvised explosive devices, otherwise known as “roadside bombs,” said Smith.

Those who have worked with Kastor say they will miss his calm demeanor and happy disposition.

“I always call him the joker because he is always smiling,” said Smith. “He never seems to have a bad day.”

Traditionally, officials with the Corporal Dustin Jerome Lee Kennel will assign one handler per working K-9. It is essential to match the personality of the dog with the officer. Kastor’s career served as an exception that proved the rule.

Due to his laid back nature, he worked with multiple dog handlers in support of presidential and vice-presidential security missions, according to kennel officials.

“He was an easy match for everyone because he was so easy to work with,” said Smith. Smith also stated Kastor’s age and subsequent loss of work ethic was a deciding factor to retire him to a new home.

“When we first get a dog, he is young and full of energy,” said Smith. “Often times, he is too spastic. In a few short years, the K-9 matures a little and becomes more methodical.

“Once they get to approximately 5-years old, they do their best work,” he said. “However, like all of us, once he gets older he gets slower and doesn’t want to work as much. We keep an eye out for this and it’s always great to give the dog at least two to three years of rest and some time to enjoy a new home.”


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