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K-9 remains resilient, bonds with handler

Senior Airman Bryce Bates, a 48th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, interacts with his teammate, Gina, before a vehicle inspection at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, April 11, 2016. Bates has been providing additional care for Gina after a cancerous tumor was recently removed from her mouth. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Erin Trower)

Senior Airman Bryce Bates, a 48th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, interacts with his teammate, Gina, before a vehicle inspection at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, April 11, 2016. Bates has been providing additional care for Gina after a cancerous tumor was recently removed from her mouth. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Erin Trower)

Gina, a 48th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, works on Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. Gina was recently cleared to return to duty after undergoing a surgery to have a cancerous tumor removed from her mouth. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Erin Trower)

Gina, a 48th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, works on Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. Gina was recently cleared to return to duty after undergoing a surgery to have a cancerous tumor removed from her mouth. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Erin Trower)

Gina, a 48th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, recovers after surgery at Royal Air Force Feltwell, England, March 2016. In February, a cancerous tumor was discovered and later removed from her mouth. She has made a full recovery and returned to work with her handler, Senior Airman Bryce Bates, at RAF Lakenheath. (Courtesy photo)

Gina, a 48th Security Forces Squadron military working dog, recovers after surgery at Royal Air Force Feltwell, England, March 2016. In February, a cancerous tumor was discovered and later removed from her mouth. She has made a full recovery and returned to work with her handler, Senior Airman Bryce Bates, at RAF Lakenheath. (Courtesy photo)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England (AFNS) -- Only months after recovering from hip dysplasia, Gina, an 8-year-old military working dog at Royal Air Force Lakenheath was diagnosed with yet another ailment. In February, a cancerous tumor was discovered on her mouth.

Gina's handler, Senior Airman Bryce Bates, a 48th Security Forces Squadron MWD handler, ensured Gina wasn't alone during her next battle of medical procedures. Bates and Gina had an immediate bond once they became teammates in October.

Bates stayed by Gina's side as she underwent anesthesia to have the tumor removed in March and faithfully waited at the veterinary clinic until she woke up 3 1/2 hours later.

"I wanted to be there for her because she would be there for me," Bates said. "I wanted to hear it firsthand if anything went wrong."

While Gina was in remission, Bates spent the next three weeks exercising, feeding and caring for her, until she made a full recovery and was able to return to work.

Gina is known throughout the squadron for her gentle disposition and pleasing demeanor. Bates claims she has the perfect balance between a house and working dog.

"She is super friendly for a working dog," Bates said. "She has the aggression and dedication for work, but she really just wants to please."

Bates further bonds with Gina by celebrating her birthdays, cake and hat included, dressing her up for the holidays, and taking her on sight-seeing trips to London.

"When it's time for her to quit, she will be adopted for sure," Bates said. "I hope I can take her with me. It would be great to have a dog like her."

The career expectancy of MWDs depends on their health and ability to carry on their mission requirements. For the time being, Gina is in good health and will continue to serve at RAF Lakenheath until the time to retire arrives.