Military working dog who served alongside service members in Middle East earns his retirement
By SHAWN HARDY | The Record Herald | Published: May 21, 2020
GREENCASTLE, Pa. (Tribune news Service) — After two tours of duty in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, a retired Army veteran is enjoying some R&R with his family in Greencastle.
Meghin, a 10 1/2-year-old German shepherd/Belgian Malinois mix, was deployed for a total of over 27 months in combat zones. Most recently he spent more than nine months in Iraq in 2018 as part of Operation Inherent Resolve with his third and final handler and now owner, James Hines II.
Hines, the son of James and Keli Hines of Greencastle and a 2016 graduate of Greencastle-Antrim High School, originally was interested in becoming a military police officer when his U.S. Army recruiter told him about dog handler opportunities.
He and Meghin (pronounced Mee-ghin) were partners in the Army for three years.
During their deployment in Iraq, they assisted coalition, conventional and special forces in explosive detection.
"We are on the front line to save other soldiers," Hines explained.
Stateside, they conducted multiple missions for President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other high-ranking officials and served on base in a military police capacity, according to Hines, a sergeant with the 947th MWD Detachment based at Fort Myer in Arlington, Va.
"Meghin is just like another human being to me," Hines said. "He is the smartest dog I have ever known and best companion a person could have. He is my best friend and I am his."
Hines has about two years more to serve, but it was time for Meghin to retire based on his age and physical health.
"The service has taken a toll on his body," Hines explained. "He suffers from hip dysplasia now and has to take medication for that and anxiety."
Meghin officially retired on April 21.
"Because I was his current handler I was able to adopt him before anyone else could. Back a long time ago, the dogs were disposed of. Now there is a long list of people willing to adopt them when they retire," he said.
Meghin loves to fetch tennis balls, is really liking the couch and is learning to adjust to a new companion, according to Hines said.
"My parents have an 8-year-old black Lab named Gunner. My mom spent months worrying about how they would get along," he said. "Gunner is definitely an Alpha male and somewhat of a bully — you can ask anyone who walks past the house! But Gunner actually treats Meghin with respect, gives him his space and is even sharing his toys! So, that's a big relief."
Hines is now back at Fort Myer, training with his new certified explosive detection dog Fargo.
"He is a 4-year-old German shepherd," Hines said. "He has no deployments under his belt yet. He is a good dog, but still needs a lot of work to be as good as Meghin."