Story and Photos by
Spc. Marcus Fichtl
8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Man’s best friend follows him in times of peace, war and even in competition.
Seventeen Army and Air Force military working dog teams from around the globe competed, here, in the 2011 Hawaiian Islands Working Dog Competition, recently.
As the only military working dog competition in the Department of Defense, the event tested competitors on their dog handling abilities, but most importantly, showcased the trust between military members and their best friends.
The competition was hosted by the Schofield Kennel, 13th Military Police Detachment, 728th MP Battalion, 8th MP Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command.
“(It’s) a celebration of dog handling,” said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Timmins, head judge, 2011 Hawaiian Islands Working Dog Competition and U.S. Army-Pacific Military Working Dog coordinator.
The working dog teams, comprised of one handler and one working dog, competed in events ranging from drug detection in a plane graveyard to a grueling obstacle course where handlers competed with their dogs on their backs.
The competition tested and ultimately rewarded the faith demonstrated between the handlers and the dogs. In these teams, small body nuances replace words and a primal trust develops, according to Timmins. Trust builds a bond as strong as any family, he added.
“A dog is not a rifle, it’s not a system and you can’t program it,” Timmins said.
Sgt. Jennifer Rader, 13th MP Det., tapped into that primal trust when she took off her night vision goggles and relied on her partner of two years, Benny, to help guide her through a maze of buildings under complete darkness and with gunfire surrounding her during the tactical detection scenario.
She relies on that trust every day when she completes her patrols.
“When I’m more alert, he’s more alert, (and) he reads off my vibes when the situation gets intense,” she said.
Participating teams displayed true partnership throughout the competition, as well as determination to get the job done.
Rader said teams displayed a lot of experience and a lot of different techniques, but handlers have to learn what works best for their dogs, as what works with one dog might not work with another dog.
Sgt. Richard Morrison, 13th MP Det., and his dog, Bo, won “Top Dog” and many trophies, while displaying a fast, unique, tough style that awed crowds, especially during the “hardest hitting dog” portion of the competition.
When the dust had settled and the competition had ended, the team from U.S. Army-Korea took “Top Kennel.”