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Goodfellow | Honoring Ajola

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ashley Thrash
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

Senior Airman Jordan Arredondo walks into the dog kennels at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, hearing all the dogs barking, but one stands out to his ears. This bark was unique and extra raspy but just as loud as the others. He walks up to Ajola’s kennel as she excitedly jumps around and wags her tail a million miles a minute. He grabs her leash and prepares for another day of work.

Fast forward two years, the same dog is sleeping on his couch, next to his wife, Shawn, in his San Angelo, Texas home.

Arredondo was paired with his first working dog, Ajola, in March of 2021 after he completed handler training at Andrews. There, they went through at least 50 ten-hour training days to get to know each other and build an unbreakable bond.

During their partnership, Arredondo and Ajola secured areas and preserved the safety of visitors and staff of the presidential party. They went on two presidential missions and completed over 350 escort missions.

Before being paired with Arredondo, Ajola served with the 316th Security Forces Squadron as a military working dog for five years and deployed twice to the Middle East.

Ajola retired in December of 2021 and was immediately adopted by Arredondo and his wife.

“She looked at him like he made the universe,” said Shawn. “I always told everyone she loves her daddy and her Kong; those are the only two things she needs in the world.”

In March, the family moved to San Angelo, where Arredondo was assigned to the 17th Security Forces Squadron, and Ajola continued her retirement in West Texas.

Although they did not continue to serve together, their bond stayed strong.

“Every single day, whether I went to work or the grocery store, when I came home she would sprint out the front door and jump up to me and press her head against me like it was the first we ever met,” said Arredondo. “She just showed me unconditional love all the time.”

Unfortunately, Ajola passed from chronic illness Jan. 7 but spent her last few days right next to her parents.

Ajola’s sacrifice and service to the country will forever be immortalized in the hearts and minds of Arredondo and Shawn, as well as everyone who had the honor of serving with her.