NISKAYUNA- When Jay Rodriguez Bonano first joined the military, he planned to be in long enough to get his masters degree in business and then start working elsewhere. But he fell in love with the work and the lifestyle that the military brought him.
Through his service in Afghanistan, Bonano has also gained a new family member.
“I started working with Tayros in November of 2014,” Bonano said.
Tayros is a Belgian Malinois contract working dog, trained to detect drugs in any cargo coming into the military base that Bonano worked in.
“Unlike other military dogs, CWD’s don’t have a single handler that they go along with,” Bonano said.
So Tayros quickly became everyone’s dog.
“You’re not supposed to pet them while they’re on duty. But off duty, they definitely provide a good distraction,” Bonano said.
Soldiers and other members at the base would volunteer to help train the dogs- which often meant slipping on a body suit so they could be chased – just to be around the animals.
Bonano began serving in 2001 as a private first class and worked his way up to become sergeant before earning a commission. He is now a captain.
For his service, he has been recognized with the Bronze Star medal, a Meritorious Service Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Meda with two Campaign Stars, Iraq Campaign Medal with three Campaign Stars, Global war on Terrorism Service Award, and a NATO Service Award, among others.
Bonano serves as the operations officer for the United States Army Reserve 413th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion at the Niskayuna reserve center, providing support to assigned units and helping to train reserve soilders.
While he worked as the commander for the Movement Control Team, Bonano oversaw a large number of soldiers and helped to speed up transportation of cargo to and from the four bases in Afghanistan.
“When I first got there it would take three or four days just to get the cargo into the base,” Bonano said. He helped to speed up the processes so that it would only take about 24 hours for delivery.
He was deployed several times to Afghanistan and Iraq. Because he was the Commander, he moved around to all of the bases so whenever Tayros moved, Bonano was usually around him.
It was Tayros’ job to detect any drugs coming into the base or any other harmful packages.
“He was first deployed in 2009 and was in until June of 2015,” Bonano said.
When Bonano and his family first moved to Niskayuna, they had recently lost the family dog, which happened to be a Malinois.
Then Bonano got a call from an organization called K9 Hero Haven asking if he wanted to adopt Tayros.
“That was in June of 2016 and I immediately said yes. I’m a firm believer that once these dogs have completed their service, they should go to a home where they are treated like a family member,” Bonano said.
And Tayros is nothing short of a family member to Bonano, his wife Laura and his three children, Alanis, Amanda, and Jay.
“He brings in the opportunity to care for a pet and know what that means. My daughter takes him for walks and takes care of him every day,” Bonano said.
Now, he’s hoping to take what Tayros has given to fellow soldiers and to his family and share it with other veterans.
“I’m working to get him certified as a service dog and then to bring him to the VA hospital and provide comfort to soldiers,” Bonano said.
Because of Tayros’ other training, getting him certified as a service dog won’t be too much of a stretch and considering how quickly he bonded with his new family, Bonano believes that Tayros will be bonding with veterans and service people in no time.