Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jeffery Rodriguez stands with his dog, Dharma, April 26, 2012. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Timothy Lenzo
Face of Defense: Dog Handler Enjoys Responsibilities
By Marine Corps Cpl. Timothy Lenzo
1st Marine Division Public Affairs
TREK NAWA, Afghanistan, May 2, 2012 – Many children beg their parents for a dog. The floppy ears and wagging tail seem to attract children to man’s best friend. But many parents know that caring for a dog means a lot of responsibility, training and effort.
Dog handlers in the Marine Corps not only shoulder that same responsibility — they volunteer for it on top of the responsibilities of being deployed to Afghanistan.
For Marine Corps Cpl. Jeffery Rodriguez, a dog handler with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, those responsibilities are more like a privilege.
Rodriguez said he loves being a dog handler. He knows he’s helping his squad, and the added responsibilities far outweigh the added attention of caring for a dog.
What sets Rodriguez apart from other dog handlers is the personal effort he puts into Dharma, a 4-year-old Labrador retriever.
“He’s the best dog handler I’ve ever seen,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Edward Welsh, Rodriguez’s squad leader. “He’s constantly taking care of the dog and working to make himself and Dharma better.”
Rodriguez, a native of Fayetteville, Ga., knows that a dog handler’s job is more than just patrolling with and feeding the dog. The most important job is ensuring the dog is well prepared for the deployment ahead....