AIRWAY HEIGHTS, Wash.-- An Air Force veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is retiring. He's also survived cancer, twice. He happens to be a Belgian Malinois -- Lucky the dog.
Part of the team at Fairchild Air Force Base, Airman Lucky has played a key role in fighting the War on Terror, by doing a job that most Americans could never do -- sniff out explosives.
Lucky, 9, has been in the Air Force his whole life, but now it's time to relax.
During his four tours in the Middle East, he gave those on the front line peace of mind.
"Sometimes there are missions where they won't go into a house until the dog is there," says Lucky's handler Staff Sgt. Gerald Martinez.
He says together, they've found thousands of pounds of explosives, and sometimes that much at just one location. Lucky's keen sense of smell can detect explosives up to one mile away, and the enemy knows that.
"They'll target the vehicle that the handler and the dog team are riding in," says Sgt. Martinez.
Martinez and Lucky never leave each other's side.
"He's like my best friend, I take him everywhere, everywhere but the chow hall and the bathroom," says Sgt. Martinez.
Martinez says it was hard to see Lucky suffer with two bouts of cancer in 2005 and earlier this year. But the canine bounced back, and returned to duty, stronger than ever.
Now, after a lifetime of serving, Lucky will focus on fun.
"He's a great dog, he's done his service and he deserves retirement," says Sgt. Martinez, who hopes Lucky can retire at his house.