When it comes time for a service dog to protect their human, they save lives.
So the time that Corporal (Cpl) Natasha Falconer spends with her puppies are of national significance.
As a Military Working Dog (MWD) Handler in the RAAF, Cpl Falconer lays important groundwork working with the puppies from birth until they are three months old.
Growing up in Ipswich, Queensland, Cpl Falconer said she has always loved animals and has had dogs all her life.
“I found out about the MWD Handler job and I realised this was the right job for me. I am passionate about animals, and it would give me the opportunity to travel the world while serving my country.” Cpl Falconer said.
Cpl Falconer was posted to Number 2 Security Forces Squadron (2SECFOR) in RAAF Base Amberley after graduating from her initial training.
“I was so excited to be paired with my first MWD ‘Xana’, a highly confident, loyal and intelligent German Shepherd,” said Cpl Falconer.
“The first 12 months was pretty intense as I had to focus on bonding with Xana, as well as training and developing Xana and myself as a team to reach operational standards.”
Cpl Falconer is currently posted to the Breeding Cell of RAAF Security and Fire School.
“My role involves the facilitation of our breeding program – from artificial insemination, pregnancy, birth, through to raising and training of puppies in the first three months of their lives,” Cpl Falconer said.
“I love this job because it is so rewarding – not only because I am contributing to the bringing of new MWD puppies to the world, but also because my puppies and I get to travel to different communities in Australia to promote the RAAF.
“In fact, MWD Puppy ‘Cyra’ and I just returned from Exercise Pitch Black Open Day in Darwin, where we met many families and sparked interests about the RAAF and the MWD role.”
When Cpl Falconer is not working, she enjoys training her three-year-old female Belgian Malinois to compete in sports dog trials.