Working dog competition tests skills, builds camaraderie

| August 7, 2015 | 2 Comments
Military working dog handler Sgt. Veronica Pruhs, 520th Military Working Dog Detachment, 728th Military Police Battalion, and her K-9 partner Jerry, prepare to lower themselves down a rope during an obstacle course event in the 2015 Hawaiian Islands Working Dog Skills Challenge hosted by the 728th Military Police Battalion at Schofield Barracks, July 27-31.

Military working dog handler Sgt. Veronica Pruhs, 520th Military Working Dog Detachment, 728th Military Police Battalion, and her K-9 partner Jerry, prepare to lower themselves down a rope during an obstacle course event in the 2015 Hawaiian Islands Working Dog Skills Challenge hosted by the 728th Military Police Battalion at Schofield Barracks, July 27-31.

 

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Taresha Hill
8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs
8th Theater Sustainment Command

 

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Military and police working dog teams went nose to nose while competing in the 2015 Hawaiian Islands Working Dog Skills Challenge, hosted by the 728th Military Police Battalion, 8th MP Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, here, July 27-31.

Taking first place and “Top Dog” in the competition are Sgt. Daniel Jackson and his

Military working dog handler Sgt. Daniel Jackson and his K-9 Bbailey, 904th Military Working Dog Detachment, stationed at Fort Benning, Gerogia, take 1st Place and Top Dog

Military working dog handler Sgt. Daniel Jackson and his K-9 Bbailey, 904th Military Working Dog Detachment, stationed at Fort Benning, Gerogia, take 1st Place and Top Dog.

partner, Bailey, 904th MWD Det., stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia.

More than 25 working dog teams competed and represented the best from the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Honolulu Police Department. The weeklong competition tested the mental and physical stamina of both the handlers and the working dogs, driving the teams to give it their all each day.

“Each event was designed to push them past a level of training they may not have experienced before,” said Sgt. 1st Class Cory Lorenz, kennel master, 520th Military Working Dog Detachment, 728th MP Bn. “We wanted to push them out of their comfort zone.”

One event proved particularly challenging for Sgt. Veronica Pruhs, a military working dog handler with the 520th MWD Detachment and her K-9 partner, Jerry. Still considered a pup, Jerry had a difficult time navigating the obedience course, which had hundreds of doggy toys strewn about the course.

Police Cpl. Kelvin Espiritu, working dog handler, Honolulu Police Department, navigates his K-9 partner Rex through an obedience course

Police Cpl. Kelvin Espiritu, working dog handler, Honolulu Police Department, navigates his K-9 partner Rex through an obedience course.

Despite K-9 Jerry’s determination to play with every toy on the course, Pruhs stuck with it and finished the event.

“I didn’t give up,” Pruhs laughed.

Lorenz said he couldn’t be happier with the teams and their dedication in competing in this year’s challenge.

“It gave them the opportunity to see their strengths and weaknesses,” said Lorenz.

Events ranged from a stress-shoot to tactical and non-tactical detections, a written

Staff Sgt. Patrick Appling, kennel master, 549th Military Working Dog Detachment, U.S. Army Alaska, role-plays as a suspect while wearing a bite suit during a handler-protection event

Staff Sgt. Patrick Appling, kennel master, 549th Military Working Dog Detachment, U.S. Army Alaska, role-plays as a suspect while wearing a bite suit during a handler-protection event.

skills test, an obedience course, handler protection and even a hardest hitting dog event, in which the K-9s were scored based on the strength of their bite by a decoy wearing a bite suit. Lastly, handlers had to negotiate an obstacle course while maintaining positive control over their K-9 counterparts.

While the competition was a challenge for military working dog handler Spc. David Kmosko and K-9 Drago, 520th MWD Det., Kmosko said it was also a great learning experience.

“You’re always learning and it’s important to tap into that knowledge that other handlers have,” said Kmosko.

Kmosko also said that K-9s are important to have within the military and civilian police departments and stressed their unique capabilities.

“A dog can find a hidden IED that would take a person a wrong step to find, or an extremely expensive and slow-moving piece of equipment to find,” said Kmosko.

He added, “You’re not going to be able to beat a dog’s nose.”

Staff Sgt. Daniel Lyon, 520th Military Working Dog Detachment, 728th Military Police Battalion, carries his K-9 partner Zeno during an obstacle course

Staff Sgt. Daniel Lyon, 520th Military Working Dog Detachment, 728th Military Police Battalion, carries his K-9 partner Zeno during an obstacle course.

Police Sgt. Gregory Obara, a working dog handler with HPD, also stressed the important role of K-9s and said that it was the dog’s unique and superior ability to detect people, drugs and bombs that helps to keep the islands safe.

“The K-9 is the part that elevates the team,” said Obara.

In addition to exchanging knowledge and building camaraderie, Lorenz said the competition also helped to establish connections within the working dog community.

“Prior to this event, communication between the agencies was nearly nonexistent,” said Lorenz.

Lorenz said this year’s competition was much larger than the one held in 2012 and added, “I hope we can build upon this and make it a tradition.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments (2)

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  1. Brian Bergquist says:

    This looks like great fun. Can you provide a contact at Schofield Barracks that I could interview? I’d like to observe the next competition if it’s open to civilians?

    Thank you.

    Brian

    • haw says:

      Hello, Brian — We’re delighted that you enjoyed the story. Call Operations at the Directorate of Emergency Services at (808) 655-4264. ~HAW Staff

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