The 319th SFS Retires MWD Zsolti

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Phyllis Jimenez
  • 319th RW/PA

After six years, four handlers, two deployments and over 11,000 hours protecting and serving alongside his fellow airmen, Military Working Dog Zsolti Z285, a 319th Security Forces Squadron K-9, officially hung up his work harness.

The 319th SFS celebrated Zsolti’s retirement Dec. 19, 2023, here.  

During his retirement ceremony, Zsolti received the Military Working Dog Certificate of Meritorious Service for his dedication to the U.S. Air Force.

After finishing his required training at Lackland AFB, Texas, in 2018, Zsolti was assigned to Grand Forks AFB as a dual certified Patrol/Explosive Detector Dog. During his time in service he protected millions of dollars in infrastructure, priority level assets, high level government officials and his community. 

Zsolti is described as a very affectionate dog with a high drive for handler interaction who does not like to sit still, even in his older age. 

“Every morning when I came into the kennels, Zsolti would scream and spin in anticipation of getting to go to work,” said Senior Airman James Edwards, a 319th SFS military working dog handler. “MWD Zsolti is well ready for retirement and is going to a loving home in Florida with his former and favorite handler, SSgt Austin Dragoo.”

Dragoo, currently assigned to the 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron as a military working dog handler, was stationed at Grand Forks AFB in 2020 where he was partnered with MWD Zsolti for two years. As a MWD team, then Senior Airman Dragoo and MWD Zsolti deployed to Saudi Arabia in 2021 where they are credited with detecting a vehicle carrying an improvised explosive device attempting to gain access to the installation.

 “Zsolti and I bonded. We deployed three days after my daughter was born and found a bomb together while we were overseas.” said Dragoo. “He provided me with a sense of safety and brought me back home to my baby.” 

In July of 2023 MWD Zsolti was diagnosed with Canine Degenerative Lumbosacral Stenosis, an injury which causes severe lower back pain, and underwent a corrective surgery that will make retired life more comfortable for his many years to come.

“I look forward to taking him home without any of the rules or standards I have to hold him to as a MWD,” said Dragoo. “He gets to be a dog. He gets to lay down and relax whenever he wants. He’s earned it.”