'End of watch:' Defenders, family pay final respects to MWD Cvoky
By Richard Essary, 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 22, 2021
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Retired military working dog Cvoky was honored earlier this month during an end of watch ceremony in front of family members and fellow Defenders from the 75th Security Forces Squadron here.
The 116-pound Belgian Malinois had been suffering from lymphoma cancer over the past few months when a decision was made to put him to rest. Cvoky (See-vokee) was humanely euthanized following the ceremony.
An end of watch radio call is a tradition to honor fallen law enforcement and is also offered to MWDs. During the June 11 ceremony, the following words echoed over a radio:
“Control to military working dog Cvoky…control to MWD Cvoky…control to MWD Cvoky. All units, all departments, military working dog Cvoky has answered the highest call. All units, all departments, military working dog Cvoky has answered the final call. God speed Cvoky. We will remember you for your dedication and love of life. Thank you for helping us make our country a better and safer place to live. Cvoky proudly served the United States Air Force from 15 December 2014 to 11 June 2021. On 11 June 2021, rest in peace Cvoky. End of watch 1635 hours. This is the last call, 11 June 2021.”
Cvoky served the Air Force for nearly seven years before he was medically retired in March 2021. He was later adopted by his handler, Staff Sgt. Juan Reyes.
During his career, Cvoky worked with two handlers. He patrolled Hill Air Force Base, responded to threats off base and overseas, and even provided support to the Secret Service and the vice president of the United States.
In 2020, he and Reyes were awarded the U.S. Air Force Achievement Medal for outstanding service in Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Freedom Sentinel.
Handlers and MWDs build special relationships as they work together and, similar to other MWD handlers, Reyes described his relationship with his four-legged companion as “hard to explain.”
“I didn’t just seen him as a military working dog, I saw him as a partner, someone I could rely on and a best friend,” he said. “I knew I could depend on him to find any real-world threat and he could depend on me to take care of him.”
Reyes said he learned early on that Cvoky had an uncanny personality compared to other MWDs. This was something his colleagues around him found hard to believe until they saw the two of them together.
“He was very petty. He ignored me for two hours after I brushed his teeth. I put my face on his face, my eyes locked on to his, and he would move his eyes so he couldn’t see me,” Reyes said.
Similar moments occurred throughout their time together including overseas in Saudi Arabia.
“Since he was an abnormally large dog, I had to rearrange my room on a deployment so he could no longer lay in bed with me,” Reyes said. “He ignored me for three hours. Every time I’d call him, he’d look away.”
Reyes said he was grateful for the time he and his family got to spend with Cvoky over the past few months.
“I have videos of Cvoky tossing around his ball on his back, and my youngest son would show up and pet him on his stomach,” Reyes said. “Cvoky would start to nudge him back like, ‘Hey, I’m lying on my back and I’m playing with my toy, but you better not stop rubbing my stomach.’”
It’s because of these moments, Reyes said he will never forget Cvoky.
“Whether I get another dog that’s somewhat similar to him or not. He made my career,” Reyes said.
After the end of watch ceremony, Reyes made one stop with Cvoky before their final visit to the veterinary clinic together. It was to Dairy Queen to get him a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
“I wanted to make sure he was able to enjoy his last ride,” Reyes said. “I’m just happy he’s in a better place.”