Handlers, working dogs learn together

| April 14, 2011 | 0 Comments
A Navy working dog handler and a Navy military working dog size each other up before showing their skills as a team to the watching crowd of more than 50 civilian and military working dog handlers, April 1.

A Navy working dog handler and a Navy military working dog size each other up before showing their skills as a team to the watching crowd of more than 50 civilian and military working dog handlers, April 1.

Story and Photos by
Pfc. Marcus Fichtl
8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs, 8th Theater Sustainment Command

 

WAIPAHU — More than 50 civilian and military working dog handlers participated in the 13th Annual Central Pacific District Veterinary Command Dog Handler Conference, held at the Honolulu Police Academy, here, March 31-April 1.

The Schofield Barracks Veterinary Treatment Facility hosted the conference that gave working dog handlers on island the opportunity to learn how to take better care of their dog counterpart.

At the same time, handlers came together with teams from around the island to share their experiences.

A military working dog looks on as a mock dog receives a catheter as part of a hands-on exercise during the 13th Annual CENPAC DVC Dog Handler Conference.

A military working dog looks on as a mock dog receives a catheter as part of a hands-on exercise during the 13th Annual CENPAC DVC Dog Handler Conference.

“We gather all the veterinarians and veterinarian technicians from each military clinic in Hawaii and then invite all the handlers on Oahu to come participate together in one large group,” said Sgt. Sandra Castle, veterinarian technician and event coordinator, Schofield Barracks Veterinary Treatment Facility. “We take them through a series of lessons on working dog health, (and) then apply those lessons with hands-on training with working dog dummies.

“A lot of what we teach is from basic knowledge to things we learn and encounter in the field,” she added.

While the lectures on health and safety issues provided valuable knowledge, a military working dog doesn’t come with a manual.

 

“The most difficult thing handlers have (to deal with) when taking care of their own dog is understanding the dog, becoming familiar with what feels right during a physical and what feels wrong,” said Capt. Shannon McLean, Army officer in charge, Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base Veterinarian Clinic. “Every dog is different.”

Beyond just a basic physical, the care that these dogs receive isn’t far removed from the treatments their humans receive, like a visit to the dentist, setting a broken limb and emplacing a catheter, when needed.

A Navy military working dog leaps at his handler during a demonstration to show how teams take down a suspect, April 1.

A Navy military working dog leaps at his handler during a demonstration to show how teams take down a suspect, April 1.

Maureen Yee-Lam, K-9 explosive handler, Transportation Security Administration, couldn’t hold back a smile while bandaging her mock dog.

“It’s awesome being here with other handlers and the vets,” Yee-Lam said. “I’m just glad to be part of this and take in all they have to offer me.”

The event finished with a showcase of what a healthy working dog team can do. The Honolulu Police Department showcased its search and rescue capabilities, while the Navy displayed its working dog teams’ abilities to take down a subject.

“It’s rewarding to go out and teach people about their animal, (and) then see what they can do with them,” said Spc. Kirsten Frock, veterinarian technician, Schofield Barracks Veterinary Treatment Facility. “A lot of these handlers don’t get the same schooling we do as (veterinarian technicians, so) the feeling that our knowledge contributed to their success is what makes this job (so rewarding).

“We came here to ensure everyone was able to take something away (from this conference), and if they ever came into a situation where their working dog got in trouble, the handlers would know what to do,” she added.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Category: News, Training

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *