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Kentucky Air Guard to host demo Thursday of Callie, the only search-and-rescue dog in U.S. military

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Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton, U.S. Air National Guard
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The Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron will host a demonstration for news media on Thursday, Aug. 1, featuring Callie, the only search-and-rescue dog in the Department of Defense. The event will start at 10 a.m.

The unit acquired Callie, a 26-month-old Dutch shepherd, in 2018. She has now earned multiple qualifications to accommodate the specific skillset of the 123rd STS, including helicopter exfiltration and infiltration, mountain rescue (rappelling plus ice, snow and alpine maneuvers), and static line and freefall parachute insertion.

“Callie is trained in live find,” said her handler, Master Sgt. Rudy Parsons. “She goes into wilderness, collapsed-structure or disaster situations. She’s trained to detect living people, find them, and alert me when she’s located them. We react accordingly, mark the spot and begin the extraction of those people.”

Parsons, a pararescueman in the Kentucky Air Guard, added that Callie can find trapped victims more quickly and expeditiously than traditional methods. Before Callie’s introduction to the unit, the method of search and rescue in urban settings involved probing and digging with drills and cameras. According to Parsons, this slow and sometimes unreliable method only added tools, weight and difficulty to the process.

“Our traditional method involves carrying around a bunch of extremely heavy equipment. Callie weighs 50 pounds, and she gets herself around. She beats any type of equipment or machine with just her capabilities, her nose and her intelligence. She’s just really good at her job,” added Parsons.

According to Chief Master Sgt. Karl Grugel, the squadron’s chief enlisted manager, “search and rescue dogs have already been proven time and time again on the civilian side. They have such an immense capability. When they do side-by-side testing, there’s nothing that even comes close to a canine.”

(provided by Kentucky Air National Guard)

Paul Hitchcock earned his Masters in Communications from Morehead State University and Bachelors in Radio-TV/Psychology from Georgetown College. A veteran broadcaster for more than 40 years and an avid fan of blues, jazz and American roots music. Hitchcock has been with WMKY since 1986 and was named General Manager in 2003. He currently hosts "Muddy Bottom Blues" (Fri., 8pm-9pm), "Nothin' But The Blues" (Sat., 8pm-12am), "Sunday Night Jazz Showcase" and "Live From The Jazz Lounge" (Sun., 8pm-9pm) and "The Golden Age of Radio" (Sun., 2pm-3pm). He also serves as producer for "A Time For Tales" and "The Reader's Notebook."
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