published Friday, April 11th, 2014

Military dog that saved patrol retires with honors

  • photo
    Security Forces Squadron flight chief Matthew Weaver salutes Staff Sgt. Shannon Hutto, a military working dog trainer and Eddie, a Belgian Malinois during a ceremony at MacDill Airforce Base in Tampa, Fla., Friday, April 11, 2014.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

TAMPA, Fla. — Staff Sgt. Shannon Hutto thought his bomb sniffing dog Eddie was just being lazy when he wouldn't move from a certain spot one hot day in Afghanistan in 2012.

But Hutto then saw what Eddie smelled: a homemade bomb, partially buried in the dirt. It was six inches from Hutto's foot.

"It was a high stress moment," Hutto said.

A short time later, Eddie sniffed out another improvised explosive placed on a bridge the patrol unit was about to cross.

Eddie saved Hutto's life, the lives of a dozen patrol members and countless people in the village.

For his service, Eddie retired Friday with full military honors. The ceremony was held at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, and a few dozen soldiers turned out to cheer Eddie on.

The Belgian Malinois dog was assigned to MacDill's 6th Security Forces Squadron and has served for about five years. He's also helped sweep government buildings and helped the Secret Service by checking presidential and vice presidential visit venues.

In retirement, he will be reunited with his first handler, Andrew Grymes.

Hutto said he will be forever grateful to Eddie for saving his life.

During the brief retirement ceremony, Eddie wasn't quite sure what to make of all the people clapping, talking and saluting. He appeared nonplussed when someone formally handed Hutto a plaque.

But when Carol White, a private Air Force contractor, gave him a special cake made out of peanut butter and bananas, he dove right in.

As a working dog, Eddie wasn't allowed such luxuries. Now he's free to enjoy the pleasures of retirement.

"He can go and be a pet," said Hutto. "100 percent, sitting on the couch, playing with toys, sleeping in the bed."

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