Retirement doesn’t mean this partnership is over
Friday, April 1, 2016
Memphis International Airport said goodbye to one of its most faithful and dedicated team members recently – a security professional who has spent her entire career keeping airline passengers at MEM safe.
That team member is Lena, an 8-year-old German Shepherd work dog who specializes in sniffing out explosives.
She and her handler, Officer Richard McCain, formed one of the Memphis Airport Police Department's longest-serving K9 teams until health issues forced Lena to retire on March 18. The pair had served together at MEM for more than six years, and are one of four teams deployed by the MAPD.
Lena has developed arthritis in her back, a condition that at times makes it difficult for her to move her hind legs.
“She’s the only K9 I’ve ever worked with, and I’m the only handler she’s ever had, so it’s going to be a little sad not having her at the airport anymore,” said McCain, a 15-year MAPD veteran and third-generation police officer. “But the good news is that I’ll still have her at home.”
McCain is keeping Lena as a family pet.
It’s not uncommon for K9s to become personal pets of their handlers. By keeping Lena, McCain will ensure that she continues to receive care and love – especially from McCain’s 4-year-old son, Richard II.
When Lena is home with the family, she and Richard II are inseparable.
“Little man loves Lena, and she’s great with him,” McCain said. “She’s been a part of his life since he was born, so there’s a bond there that’s like family.”
Meanwhile, McCain’s new K9 partner--a male Belgian Malinois named Dollar--has already arrived from explosives detection training at Lackland AFB. The pair will begin patrolling after an acclimation period of about 6-8 weeks.