State and military dog it out in K-9 competition

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Apryl Hall
  • Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
The first cooperative, 2013 North Dakota Peace Officer Association K-9 Police Trials competition, which included military members and local law enforcement officials, took place at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., Aug. 14.

The event showcased 12 K-9 teams from military bases and law enforcement agencies across the state. The teams competed in various field exercises including narcotics and explosives detection, and a dog rescue scenario called the Iron Dog Rescue Course.

The competition is held at various locations in North Dakota each year; however, this was the first time the trials were held on a military installation. The joint competition allows the civilian and military agencies and their dogs to learn from each other, said Tech. Sgt. Steven Kaun, 5th Security Forces Squadron military working dog trainer.

"This allows us to train on similar substances and get different techniques from civilian or other military teams," said Kaun, a Buffalo, N.Y., native. "It's also good for camaraderie."

The detection exercises were conducted before the main event, the Iron Dog Rescue Course. The course consisted of several hurdles, tunnels and ramps. Additionally, teams had to dodge decoys, engage a suspect in a mock combat zone and complete exercises that tested the dog's ability to obey various commands. .

Each obstacle served a specific training purpose, said Kaun. Leaping over hurdles simulated jumping through windows while a catwalk imitated a narrow ledge the dog had to run on. Also, at one point in the course the handler would lift the dog onto his shoulder simulating carrying the dog through rubble.

The K-9 teams had no previous knowledge of the course beforehand, adding realism and enhancing their decision making, Kaun added.

The excitement on the field was visible on the faces of the nearly 75 onlookers seated in the stands, Kaun said. The crowd was encouraged to cheer the dogs on as they ran through the course. The crowd helped motivate the dogs and trainers throughout the competition, building excitement and energy, added Kaun.

"We really enjoyed everyone coming out and hope they enjoyed the show," said Kaun. "It let people choose their favorite superhero and help them win."

Though the show was meant to entertain, it was a judged competition meant to highlight the most efficient working K-9 team, said Kaun.

The winners of the competition were announced at a formal public ceremony in the afternoon.

The Top Dog for Narcotics Detection Award and the North Dakota Peace Officer Association Traveling Trophy was presented to K-9 Gypsy and her handler Corporal Mike Lee, Grand Forks Country sheriff.

The Top Dog for Explosives Award went to military working dog Kety and her handler Staff Sgt. Christopher Averill, 5th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler.

Apart from entertainment and friendly competition, the trials ultimately provided an up-close look at the capability of these dogs, said Kaun.

"They say military working dogs and civilian K-9s work at Olympic standards," said Kaun. "They're running heavy, they're working heavy and these are the best dogs we can get on these forces."