Dogs, handlers compete

By DawnDee Bostwick
Waynesville Daily Guide
Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
-Forty-two teams made of humans and canines came from across the United States to determine who would be this year’s “Top Dog.”
The third annual TRADOC Working Dog Warrior Police Challenge, held for the first time on Fort Leonard Wood, tested handlers and canines abilities in a variety of situations.

The competition is one tool that can be used to assess training success and where improvements need to be made.

For some, the military environment was one that was entirely new.
Civilian Cpl. Brian Moore, who is with the Waynesville Police Department, brought Oxx, the department’s newest employee, to test his skills and learn some new things.

“I’m pleased with him,” Moore said of Oxx’s performance through the week-long competition. “I’ve learned a lot from the other handlers.”
Oxx performed well in the exercises, although one obstacle course proved to be a bit more challenging than anticipated.
“We’ve never run an obstacle course,” Moore said. “That was all new to us.”

And though the course wasn’t done to perfection, Moore will be able to take the experience and develop Oxx’s skills even moore.
SFC Sean Shiplett organized this year’s event— an undertaking he’s worked on since January.

“This gives the teams scenarios they may not see on a daily basis,” Shiplett said, explaining what goes on during the competition. “Every environment that the team goes into is going to be a new environment.”
Moore wasn’t the only civilian participating in the mostly military event. Mark Lenger, a K-9 handler with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Department, was there as well.
“I came down to enjoy the benefits of the training they’re putting on down here,” Lenger said.

“The military is known for having excellent dogs and excellent trainers,” he  continued. “It was worth it to me to come down.”
SFC Jimmy Blankenship said dogs have a long history in law enforcement and military operations. Their sense of smell and ability to learn make the ideal partners in fighting crime.

“They are very vital. They provide force protection,” Blankenship said. “We’ve been utilizing them for approximately 50 to 60 years.”

2 Responses to “Dogs, handlers compete”

  1. The Fort Eustis “Wheel” ran a very good article about the Working Dog Challenge in last week’s paper. Eustis took “Top Kennel”, among others.

  2. Thank you for the heads up Abby!

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