Taint honored, remembered for service, loyalty
By Ann Patton , Academy Spirit staff writer
/ Published July 09, 2009
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Canine handlers and canine friends gathered on a bluff off Sumac Drive July 1 to pay tribute to and remember Taint, a Belgian Malanois who served the Academy and the 10th Security Forces Squadron with dedication, valor and loyalty.
It would have been his 12th birthday.
Taint's handler and Academy kennel master Chris Jakubin good-naturedly described him as "grumpy."
"He was not liked by many but respected by all," he said with a smile.
Taint truly was a one-man dog, answering only to himself and Mr. Jakubin.
"Taint trained me," he said. "He had his own standards, and they worked," he said.
The four-legged patrol and drug detection officer was once deemed untrainable by canine trainers at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, where he began his military career.
Untrainable, that is, until Mr. Jakubin saw a lot more than just a glimmer of potential and agreed to work with him, thus sealing a bond between canine and handler that lasted 10 years.
When Mr. Jakubin retired from the Air Force and left Lackland to become the Academy kennel master, Taint stayed behind. But the dog proved too much for that base's canine trainers, including a Marine who wanted to do things in un-Taint-like ways.
It wasn't long after that Taint was on his way to the Academy -- and Mr. Jakubin -- where he served for nine years.
"It was a unique relationship," Academy handler Staff Sgt. Timothy Bailey said of the dog/man bond during the memorial. He cited Mr. Jakubin as being the "dog whisperer" for his keen insight into training strong-willed dogs with their own ideas.
During his career the Malanois sniffed out numerous drug finds and excelled in competitions in area search and obstacle and obedience courses.
More than 40 people, and a handful of dogs, attended the memorial, including representatives from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office and the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Army Capt. Emilee Venn, a veterinarian with the 10th Force Support Squadron, called Taint "a legend" at the Academy vet clinic.
As he aged, Taint developed medical problems, including bladder and hip disorders and was partially blind.
"He fought all the way to the end," she said.
Captain Venn received a replica of a tooth she removed from the dog, a procedure that took nearly three hours.
The site of the memorial was the original site of the Academy's first kennel facility, a small house. It is also the site chosen to honor military working dogs and their service to the Academy and their country. The first stone memorial in place honors Ginger, a German short-haired pointer. It lies on an area which was once the house's kitchen, one of her favorite spots.
Mr. Jakubin recalled taking Taint for a mile and a half walk, remarkably just shortly before they said good-bye for the last time.
"Taint had a ton of heart," he said. "He will never be forgotten."