TSA detection dog honors 9/11 victim, meets his friends

Maltby swims with Irene Temple in her parent’s pool. Maltby, a black lab who is part of the National Explosives Detection K- 9 team program, is named after 9/11 victim Christian Maltby. Swimming with Maltby brought back memories of Christian

Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Erin Smith

624th Regional Support Group Public Affairs

Maltby, a female black lab, who is part of the National Explosives Detection K-9 team program, spends her days ensuring travelers are safe and that explosives don’t make their way onto planes navigating the world.

Qualifying for her job alone makes her elite, as only the top 30 percent of puppies born into the puppy program are cleared to go through the rigorous dog training at Lackland AFB, Texas, which will prepare them for jobs ranging from security to sniffing for explosives.

“It’s a personality trait,” said Senior Master Sgt. Tara Corse, Maltby’s handler. “They want dogs with focus, and who are jazzed up all the time to do their job. They don’t want to have to motivate the dog to work. The dog has to want to work,” she explained.

Corse, who is a TSA dog-handler and a first sergeant at the 48th Aerial Port Squadron, describes Maltby as a sweetheart of a dog who is an outstanding detector dog and an absolute ham.

“The scope and the ability that the dogs have is amazing, the fact that they can break scent down to a molecular level and that they can search and find items in areas that you would never think of, things that are buried deep in boxes or underneath a whole pile of things,” said Corse, who was named 624th RSG First Sergeant of the Year and PACAF Outstanding Reserve First Sergeant of the Year for 2010. “They are using their olfactory sense, which is immensely greater than ours. She impresses me every day,” she said.

Maltby’s name, though, makes her even more special. With it, she carries on a legacy – that of 9/11 victim, Christian Maltby, a 37-year-old assistant vice president for currency trading at Cantor Fitzgerald, who died on the 105th floor of the north tower, the first of the Twin Towers to be struck during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Corse said it is a little intimidating to handle a dog whose name carries such a legacy, but she does-n’t let it affect her. Her approach with dog handling and in her Reserve life is to assess an entire situation before reacting.

Being a dog handler has taught her patience. “You have to be patient with your dog,” she said.

She had to learn to control her emotions and to not take a situation at face value, but instead to assess it and get the information required to make a sound decision.

“Everything goes down leash,” Corse said, explaining how the dog is very in tune to his trainer or handler and often picks up on their emotions.

During one of her first dog competitions when she was a teenager, she was doing well in the competition and had made it pretty far when she started to feel the pressure and became nervous. She explained that her nervous response traveled down the leash and her dog vomited – right in the middle of the show ring. Instead of freaking out or overreacting, she took a towel from her back pocket, wiped the dog’s face and continued on with the competition.

Attheendoftheday,she took first in the competition, due to how she handled what could have been a negative situation.

Her attitude is the same when she is on duty as 48th Aerial Port Squadron first sergeant.

“Instead of jumping to conclusions, you have to step back and assess the entire situation before determining the steps necessary to work with Airmen,” she said. “You never know what is going on in someone’s life and it is important to get to the bottom of the situation before reacting.”

Both jobs offer Corse the opportunity to watch improvement. As a first sergeant, she guides Airmen and as a TSA dog handler, she hones Maltby’s ability by presenting her with new challenges each day and ensuring she is staying on her game and always training and improving her skills.

With Maltby, sometimes the rewards are a little different.

Recently, Maltby met Irene Temple, a childhood friend of Christian Maltby. Irene, who enjoyed Maltby’s abundant energy and said that she was delighted to meet her, also thought it was ironic that the dog was named after her friend, Christian Maltby, who was a competitive swimmer in high school and college.

“He was a great swimmer,” Temple said of Christian. “It’s funny that a lab was named after him because they are great swimmers, too.”

Though cautious at first, Maltby soon lived up to her namesake and had no problems diving into the pool in Irene’s parents’ back yard. She swam with her and played fetch with her for a while. She was sure to soak her new friend with a shake as she dried off before she departed. And just as the dog’s namesake used to do, this Maltby made Irene smile.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • RSS

Category: News