Story and Photo by
Spc. Marcus Fichtl, 8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Man and his best friend shed sweat, blood and fur as 17 working dog teams from the Korean Peninsula to Fort Eustis, Va., competed in the 2012 Hawaiian Islands Working Dog Competition hosted by the 728th Military Police Battalion, 8th MP Bde., 8th TSC, here, June 18-22.
After missing out on 2011’s competition, the kennels on Marine Corps Base Hawaii made a strong showing. The Corps won nearly half the awards, headlined by Marine Cpl. Travis Cleveland and his German Shepherd Luky, nicknamed Lucifer, who won Top Dog.
Part devil, part dog, Cleveland and Luky used their Marine and their own personal brand of aggression to kick down doors and take the course by storm.
“We just don’t want to give up,” said Cleveland. “It’s a never-die situation. We harness each others’ abilities and accomplish everything we can.”
Bragging rights aside, the weeklong event represented more than just pure competition.
According to Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Reese, 728th MP Bn. kennel master and event coordinator, the Hawaii Islands Working Dog competition is much more than that.
“The most important thing we want to get out of this competition is esprit de corps, sharing knowledge, and sharing with the Hawaii community that we are here and showing them what we can do,” said Reese.
A series of events tested possibilities a dog handler might encounter on any mission.
The teams navigated events from live fires, tactical explosive and narcotics detection, to obedience and aggression courses. The competition culminated with a grueling obstacle course.
“You always have to be on your toes; you always have to be looking for the next thing,” said Cleveland. “You have to be aware of your surroundings … how you are going to encounter any situation at any given time.”
The process military working dog handlers use to overcome obstacles builds unity and knowledge among the participants, Marine or Soldier, Cleveland added.
One brand new dog handler with the 13th MP Detactment, 728th MP Bn., Staff Sgt. Andrea Abalos, defined that spirit.
Her dog Bennie, a veteran of the competition, at first stumbled during the obstacle course, but then stood up.
“My dog needs to go on a diet,” said Abalos, jokingly, who carried the massive Bennie like a big, hairy rucksack up the hills of the obstacle course. “I want to be competitive; there’s a lot of good dog competitors here, and I want to put forth my best effort.
“I did it; they saw me do it,” she said.
As the military working dog teams return to their kennels across the globe, they’ll continue to protect the community, protect the Soldier and support the force.
But this week, however, was for the dogs.
The devil dogs.
Veterinary Treatment Center
The Fort Shafter Veterinary Treatment facility is now seeing pets throughout the week from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. The vet clinic is located beside the PX Mart and Post Office on Fort Shafter.
Book an appointment for affordable preventative care, to obtain a mandatory airline health certificate required within 10 days of air travel and more. Call 433-2271; leave a voicemail.