GROTON, Conn. – A military working dog retired from his kennel onboard Naval Submarine Base (SUBASE) New London to enjoy his new life as a civilian dog with his most beloved handler, Aug. 17.
Rino V371 was assigned to SUBASE New London for seven years which saw him take part in two deployments and missions with the Secret Service and other organizations. Rino got paired with Master-at-Arms 1st Class Andrew Rivero late in his career, but Sailor and dog quickly bonded over a deployment to the Arabian Gulf.
“I started working with Rino in February 2018,” said Rivero. “I was tasked with a deployment and we left in April of that same year for Qatar. We did about a month of pre-deployment training—a week of that was living together in a hotel room. We didn’t fully bond until a couple months into deployment. We really hit our stride in June or July. He trusted me and I trusted him.”
Though Rivero would eventually be assigned to handle another dog in the kennels, it was apparent to the Sailors at the kennels that Rino’s heart belonged to Rivero. When it came time for Rino to retire, Rivero was happy to take him into his home.
“He always saw me as dad,” said Rivero. “No matter who was working him, he would see me in the kennel and just go into my lap and want to hang out and play.”
The retirement process began with paperwork reducing Rino’s workload to one day a week. His handlers notified appropriate authorities that one of their working dogs was about to end his time in service. Rino was given a retirement ceremony at the kennels in which he was handed over to Rivero and escorted via procession out SUBASE New London’s north gate, saluted by base security personnel and working dogs alike. Rivero said that since Rino came home, he has been settling into his new, duty-free, life. The large former police dog is also getting to know Rivero and his wife’s other, much smaller, dog as well.
“He’s been home for about a week and a half and he loves it,” said Rivero. “He loves when I come home. He just wags his little [tail] nub. He’s starting to learn that he doesn’t have to go to work anymore. He’s not in a high stress environment anymore. He’s winding down and just relaxing. We have a 12 pound Maltese Shitsu named Biggy. He’s part cat, the most relaxed dog I’ve ever seen. Rino and Biggy get along well. Rino mostly stays out of Biggy’s way, Biggy doesn’t like when Rino gets in his face, but he doesn’t care mostly. Rino spends most of his day, if I’m home, looking at me and following me around the house. Wherever I go, he follows me. He’s my shadow.”
Rivero said he is happy to have been able to adopt his former dog-at-arms while adding how he appreciates Rino’s friendly, affectionate nature and unwavering loyalty.
“It’s pretty cool when you have a dog that just follows you around,” said Rivero. “He’s like, ‘Dad, dad, I’m still here!’ He’s loyal. He’s great. Since I had him, I knew Rino would be a good house dog. We would be in hotel rooms on missions and he wouldn’t chew on things, he wouldn’t go to the bathroom on the floor. We’re all glad he’s home. My wife loves him, I love him. He’s a good housedog and he’s earned his retirement.”
For all who serve their nation, there eventually comes time to hang up the uniform conclude their duties. Rino V371, like countless who went before him (both two- and four-legged), has completed his service to the nation and continues to adjust to a carefree civilian life.