Naval Air Station Key West officials honored military working dog Jessy for her service at a retirement ceremony on Nov. 5.

Capt. Mark Sohaney, commanding officer of NAS Key West, presented Jessy with a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and a Certificate of Meritorious Service at the ceremony held on the air station’s Boca Chica Field, according to a news release.

Jessy received a standard MWD retirement certificate, said Danette Baso Silvers, an NAS Key West spokeswoman, in an email to Military Times.

But that wasn’t all.

“At the discretion of Commanding Officer Capt. Mark Sohaney, she was presented with a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for her six years of outstanding performance and loyalty as a U.S. Navy Military Working Dog and her protection of her 10 handlers while at Naval Air Station Key West,” Silvers said.

Jessy has worked with 10 different canine handlers in her time at NAS Key West on assignments including two overseas deployments, 38 presidential missions, and Fleet Week New York City.

In her most recent assignment, the nine-year-old Belgian Malinois and her handler were on standby in New York City to serve the hospital ship Comfort at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before being stationed at NAS Key West in 2014, Jessy was trained for patrolling and explosives detection at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, the new release stated.

Jessy’s record is pretty standard for a MWD with her tenure and qualifications, said Silvers.

“What stands out about Jessy is she and her then-handler, Master-at-Arms 1st Class Robert Calabro, were on a Presidential mission in New York City when COVID-19 hit the city,” said Silvers. “Their month-long assignment turned into two months. While they were in New York City, U.S. Navy Hospital Ship Comfort pulled into port and MA1 Calabro and Jessy were on standby if the ship’s crew needed their services.”

Following her retirement, Jessy was adopted by canine handler Master-at-Arms 1st Class Joshua Schellenger, his wife Jessica and son Kyle.

“My wife and I decided to adopt Jessy and blend her into our family,” said Schellenger, who was never Jessy’s handler. “We have a toddler and a 3-year-old German Shepard. We were nervous at first, but everyone is getting along great and Jessy is enjoying her retirement.

“Jessy has been a blessing to our family and a joy to our lives,” Schellenger added. “We pray for many healthy and happy years to come.”

Harm Venhuizen is an editorial intern at Military Times. He is studying political science and philosophy at Calvin University, where he's also in the Army ROTC program.

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