TTirado – R249 was an explosive detection dog for the Transportation Security Administration. TTirado was born in the hands of TSA as part of their puppy program that they ran for many years. Each litter that was born was designated a letter of the alphabet so TTirado was part of the “T” litter in 2009. Each dog of the litter was given a name honoring a hero in our country. TTirado was named after FDNY Engine 23 firefighter Hector Luis Tirado Jr. who gave his life on 9-11-01.
TTirado was partnered with his handler Keith in March of 2012 after his first couple of years were spent with a foster family and learning the skills of becoming a detection dog through the Canine Training Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. TTirado and Keith were part of one of the first classes of Passenger Screening dog teams that would use the K9s detection abilities to not only search traditional items like vehicles, boxes, buildings, and bags, but the K9s learned an additional skill that people could potentially be carrying something with them as they moved through an area.
TTirado and Keith graduated from Lackland in May of 2012 as a team with Keith being a new handler and TTirado being his first dog. At the time, Keith was living and stationed at Honolulu International Airport where the team worked for their first couple of years. In May of 2014, they transferred to Indianapolis International Airport where they remained for the rest of TTirado’s career.
TTirado was a fantastic first dog passing every evaluation along the way with no lapse in certification status. During TTirado’s career, he has helped support security operations for Super Bowl 52, the Final Four, the Kentucky Derby, the Pro Bowl, Indy 500, and the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. TTirado has also performed sweeps for the Prime Minister of Australia, Representative Tulsi Gabbard, and then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. The team has had opportunities to travel for work assignments all over the country, but their primary focus was the Indianapolis airport.
TTirado and Keith created a wonderful bond over the years with all that they have seen and done together. Keith knew every movement and thought of TTirado and vice versa. Over the years their detection abilities grew stronger and stronger. Keith recalls his first year as a handler for a training exercise he worked a senior handler’s dog that had been on the job for about 7 years. He remembers describing to the handler that working her dog was like driving a high-end luxury car while he was driving a low-end economy car. They both serve the main purpose of getting from A to B but there is a vastly noticeable difference in how they drive and handle. After 8 years of refinement with his partner, he feels like he is driving that luxury car, and the hard work that he has put in over the years is highly rewarding.
On May 29, 2020, TTirado put on his harness for the last time finishing a full 8 year career with his partner. TTirado now gets the luxury of retiring to Keith and being a cherished pet. The best part of retirement is Keith now has the freedom to travel with TTirado as he sees fit. Mostly they will be doing trips to “grandma’s house” however they do have 3 travel objectives in mind over the next couple years. 1) To go to NYC and take him to the ground zero memorial and also FDNY Station 23 where Hector Luis Tirado Jr. worked. 2) Take him to Georgia to meet one of Hector’s sons and his family who he has been in contact with. 3) Take him back to San Antonio to see the foster family that helped raise him as a puppy during that first crucial year. Keith is now beginning the next chapter of his career with his new partner Ari who is a 3 ½-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer.