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Kaso's K-9 memorial: From strangers to family

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Violette Hosack, 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs Office

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – Military Working Dogs are obedient, loyal and attentive. Their whole life is spent following their handlers' lead, but what their handlers don’t realize is that their dog is teaching them at the same time. 

That was the case for MWD Kaso Y305, who passed away Dec. 23, 2021, from complications due to spleen cancer. He was honored with a ceremony celebrating his life Feb. 14, 2022. 

Kaso came to Scott Air Force Base July 7, 2017, after completing his initial training at Lackland Air Force Base. He was paired with Frank Romero, his very first handler. Upon arriving here, the newly established team set their sights on training in obedience, patrol and detection. 

Romero and Kaso spent hours training, which led them to have a very strong bond. 

Thinking about their time together, Romero recalled one specific memory about how Kaso ran into a wall resulting in a scar on his eyebrow, matching Romero’s own scar on his eyebrow. Seeing these similarities, he realized that not only are both of their hair colors black, but he is Hispanic and Kaso is pronounced like cheese in Spanish. 

“I felt like we were made for each other at that point,” said Romero, who has since retired to became a teacher.  “I knew how much effort I put in with Kaso. I put in 150 percent. I was there 24/7, and I used to sleep in his kennel with him at night time so he wouldn't be alone.”

Romero's passion for teaching grew because Kaso showed him what it was like to care about something more than himself. “I care deeply about my students because I know how much time and effort I put in with Kaso. Because of that, I put [150 percent] more into everything I do.” 

MWD’s are switched between handlers to grow and advance their skills. If they are one team for their whole career, neither the handler nor dog would learn anything new. In order to improve their skill sets, Kaso was paired with another handler after Romero and was most recently partnered with Staff Sgt. Kye Grant. 

Kaso was Grant's first dog. Though Grant is an experienced Defender, what he didn’t realize was Kaso would teach him more than he could have anticipated.  

“He taught you how to be a dog handler,” said Grant. “Kaso showed you everything. He made it hard but easy at the same time. He gave you the answers to the test.”

From his experience of working with all of his handlers, Kaso knew how to do his job and knew how to teach others how to do it, too.  

“He just knew,” Grant said, laughing. “As soon as you got here he’d be like ‘oh yeah, this guy’s new. I’m going to show you how it’s done.’” 

Kaso was getting ready to medically retire and be adopted by Romero, who had everything ready for his partner to come home, even an ornament sparkling on the tree, but an unexpected turn took his best friend.  

The cancer on his spleen was found too late and there was nothing the veterinary staff could do. 

 During the funeral, a poem, "We Feared None" was shared which states, “When it is time to face my final battle let me keep my pride. Know that I loved no other place than by your side. When it is all said and done, remember the battles we’ve won. Never forget, I protected you, and as a team we feared none.”