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Retired MCLB-Albany dog goes to Marine family

Kastor, a 10-year-old bomb-sniffing dog that has been attached to Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany since 2004, was retired and adopted out on Monday. Kennel Trainer Jessie Smith, left, stands alongside Kastor and Monique Tabbert, the wife of a Marine sergeant. Tabbert and her husband were the ones selected to adopt Kastor.

Kastor, a 10-year-old bomb-sniffing dog that has been attached to Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany since 2004, was retired and adopted out on Monday. Kennel Trainer Jessie Smith, left, stands alongside Kastor and Monique Tabbert, the wife of a Marine sergeant. Tabbert and her husband were the ones selected to adopt Kastor.

MCLB-ALBANY, Ga. -- The dog kennel on Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany now has one less canine in its ranks.

Kastor, a 10-year-old working dog who had been with MCLB-Albany since 2004, left the Cpl. Dustin Jerome Lee Kennel aboard the base on Monday to officially begin his retirement.

In his time at the base, Kastor was able to develop a bond with every handler he worked alongside.

"He was an easy dog to work with," said Jessie Smith, one of the kennel's trainers. "Anybody would work with him because he was so laid back."

Kastor, who will be turning 11 in August, went home with Monique Tabbert, whose husband is a Marine sergeant.

"I'm pretty excited," Tabbert said. "I know there were several other families interested, so we are excited that he is coming with us.

"I didn't know they did this. We were looking to do this and get a dog that was already trained, so we got an application (and got started with the application process)."

The procedure to adopt Kastor was one that took several months, and involved an interview and application process to determine what experience a potential owner has with dogs, and what kind of environment could be provided to the dog.

"We try to find the right family with the right atmosphere," Smith said. "In a lot of cases, the handlers will adopt the dog. This is the first time one has gone to an active service member."

The final paperwork formally allowing Kastor's retirement came in two weeks ago, and since that time he has received a veterinarian's check to ensure he is healthy enough to be adopted out.

The last dog before Kastor to be adopted out of the kennel left late last year, Smith said.

There is already a replacement on board for Kastor, but the people working at the kennel indicated that they would still feel his absence.

"I'm going to miss that face," Smith said. "He is never not smiling. He has almost never had a bad day."

Kastor, one the bomb-sniffing canines, began his tour of duty as a service dog at MCLB in June 2004. While stationed there, he deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005 and has participated in several support missions for the president and vice president, officials say.

Working dogs are often retired out either because they are physically unable to do the job anymore, or for training reasons -- often when they are 10-11 years of age.

Kastor is going out for training reasons, as it has become harder to get him to track down a scent.

"His reward is a ball, and he is not responding to it anymore," Smith said. "He is physically ready to be a dog.

"There comes a time when dogs...we all get older and a little more slower. Dogs are no different."