For some local fun I jumped at the chance to sponsor this first annual dual purpose K9 competition and training event. I wasn't able to make it to every section, but did make it partially to both days on August 21st and August 22nd. Since I was generally uninformed on tactical K9s it was very cool to see their capabilities in action.
The first day, Friday the 21st, was the Narcotics phase so most of the dogs where sniffer specialized, although the cros-trained dogs competed as well. A circle of three events where conducted at the same time and the first I observed was the luggage search. About 12 pieces of luggage were on the ground in the garage area and the dogs were given a set time to declare which had narcotics inside. I hadn't thought much about it before, but this section displayed that dogs are trained either to signal passive or reactive when they smell narcotics. It was interesting to see the handler and K9 collaborative effort as the dogs roam around following scents and the handler guides them to make sure typically each piece of luggage is double checked. In-between I ran over to the vehicle search event where they had 3 cars lined up with the colors worked out red white and blue respectively for a patriotic flair. The concept was similar to the luggage search however it was clear a lot of effort had to be made to search all parts of the car inside and out. To positive ID a particular batch of narcotics, some dogs had to get on the hood of the vehicle for example. To keep contestants thinking, one car was given an obvious odor on the inside with the hope the handler would just declare it and not send in the dog to be confused by the overwhelming smell. I missed it, but the building search event also took place in the functional vehicle repair garage. This looked really tough since there was stuff just everywhere so hiding places were abundant making moving around the room quickly a necessity to find the narcotics in time.
Traffic sucked pretty hard, but I at least made it to the final event of Saturday the 22nd. Called the Patrol phase they held events for obedience, agility, search, and protection. I totally missed them, however I believe the search event was on the football field in which a suspect and several items where hidden. For agility and obedience they set up a full on rowdy K9 obstacle course. I did luckily make it to the Protection event which was pretty darn amusing to watch. There were many segments starting with a simulated car stop with 2 compliant suspects and 1 runaway. When he sees the dog coming he stops and yells that he gives up as a test to see if dogs respond well to heel commands. From my observations these dogs love chompn' on bad guys so they have a good 75% chance to get bit if the dog is let loose. Only the best trained dogs were able to heel on command through this temptation. Next up was a shack with a guy armed with a wacky empty water bottle flail to test dog courage. Although safe, I'm sure the contraption looks quite intimidating to most dogs, luckily the vast majority of these tactical K9s were unphased. After that, another car scenario took place where one "hostage" runs forward screaming for help while the suspect stays at the car looking aggressive with a large empty plastic jug. This is pretty impressive to see the dogs understand the handler commands to attack the further away suspect and not the person in need running towards them. For the final segment multiple pistol blanks are fired to simulate a shootout and another aggressive suspect is downrange for a tasty treat.
If that breakdown didn't make much sense, be sure and check out my youtube video. I also have a photo gallery mostly from day 1 available. This was a great opportunity to learn something new and give some local tactical community support.