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Photo Information

Camp Ripper, Al Anbar, Iraq (April 7, 2005)-- Sgt. Christopher S. Moulton, a 23- year-old Augusta, Ga., native, and Fido, a 7-year-old Belgian Malinois, conduct a routine search that can lead to anything from contraband to explosive items. (Official USMC Photo by Corporal Ken Melton)

Photo by Cpl. Ken Melton

Augusta, Ga native “works like a dog” in Iraq;

20 Sep 2005 | Cpl. Ken Melton

Life in a combat zone is rough enough. But having a combat buddy who has bad breath, doesn’t shave, and would steal your food given the opportunity might make it rougher. But Sgt. Christopher S. Moulton, 23, and his best friend, Fido, wouldn’t have it any other way. “This is the best job in the Corps,” said Moulton, a canine handler. “I mean, how many other jobs are there were you can work with man’s best friend?” Moulton, now stationed in Al Asad, has been a canine handler for nearly four years and says he enjoys every day of it. There have been some tough days, but the road that brought he and his seven-year-old Belgian Malinois to Iraq has been exactly what he was looking for. Looking to gain some life experience and more discipline, Moulton decided to join the Marine Corps after graduating from Hephzibah High School in 2000. After completing recruit training and the Military Police Instruction School at Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., he then reported to Marine Corps Base Quantico where he volunteered at the kennels as a canine trainer. Trading his personal time for on-the-job training opened the door for Moulton to attend the military working dog handler course at Lackland Air Force Base. At the school, dog handlers and canines train together. Primarily, the handlers learn how to control their dog using offensive and defensive commands. The dogs are also trained to detect contraband and explosives and learn basic obedience. Then it was back to Quantico where he met his first and favorite dog, Rando, a 6-year-old Dutch shepherd. “I remember the funniest thing that happened to us while we were at El Paso, Texas was that he ate all my tacos,” Moulton said, laughing. “I couldn’t stay mad at him because he was my best friend.” Moulton and Rando, the chow hound, worked together for nearly three years before the dog was diagnosed with cancer. He was euthanized shortly thereafter. “He looked like he was in pain. I miss him but I’m glad he didn’t have to suffer anymore,” he said with some pain of his own. Because a dog handler’s work doesn’t stop, Moulton was soon assigned another dog, a Belgian Malinois named Silver. But because of frequent deployments, another relationship was ended and after only eight months, Moulton was forced to say goodbye to his new friend. “Silver was only two-years-old and I know he will have a handler who will be able to stay with him longer back home,” Moulton said. “I felt it was my time to do my part in the war on terrorism.” Soon after leaving Silver he received Fido, and together they began to prepare for Iraq. “I spent a lot of time with him during the three months before we deployed,” said Moulton. “He’s a very curious dog and gets restless when anything or anyone new comes into his space. He’s very people friendly, but he really dislikes other dogs. No one knows why, but I like him all the same.” While in Iraq they will conduct vehicular, house and hidden weapon caches searches, conduct random gate checks and the go on the occasional foot patrol. “Having him around all the time, especially after a long day, is like having a smelly roommate,” Moulton said smiling. “But now I really understand what it means to work like a dog.” Although available throughout the interview, Fido declined to comment for this story. It is rumored, however, that Fido does not believe that he is the “smelly roommate.”