On March 6-10, Fort Hood, Texas, the 226th Military Police Detachment (Military Working Dog), 720th Military Police Battalion, hosted the first Central Texas Working Dog Competition.
Sgt. 1st Class Jeffery Pearlstein, kennel master for 226th MP Det., was excited to build strong bonds between Fort Hood and outside police authorities during the competition or training.
“We’ve got to build these foundations,” he stated. “It’s extremely vital for the mission. It’s not just on Fort Hood. It’s outside agencies working together, coming together, and building this training. Seeing where we can all come together and build the capabilities of these dog teams. It’s going to be a great week to build partnerships and bonds and to show that the surrounding areas are vital to Fort Hood and we are vital to them.”
During the week handlers and their dogs from nine external agencies and Fort Hood might show their skills during the hardest-hitting competition and the obstacle course with opportunities to learn new training techniques and perform life-saving procedures, like a tracheostomy, on their dogs.
Staff Sgt. Jay Espinosa, a squad leader for 226th MP Det., stated the competition was for building a stronger bond between Fort Hood and outside agencies, teaching and learning new training techniques.
“There’s a stigma that everybody trains the same, but we don’t,” he added. “That’s why we’re doing this. That way everybody gets a chance to learn different ways of how to train dogs, how to be a trainer, or how to be an officer as well.”
Competitors Officer David Ashley, a dog handler with the Coryell County Sheriff’s Office & his member Kraken; & Spc. Jarima Rivera, 226th MP Det., and her partner Naruto were excited to do it.
“I like competing,” Rivera stated. “I’m a competitor. I don’t like to lose.”
“(Kraken) is excited,”. “He doesn’t get the opportunity to do this that often. For him to be able to get out there and actually perform what he’s trained to do, he’s going to be really excited. By the end of the week, he’s going to be a totally different dog”, Ashley said.
They both were happy to compete and learn from multiple different agencies.
“We’re mainly surrounded by the military and everybody does the same thing,”. “I think getting away from the same thing and seeing something new from the outside (is) nice, seeing how my dog could compete with them”, Rivera said.
“I’m sure that each agency will find something that they can take back with them and apply in their own personal discipline,” Ashley stated. “There’s lots of little things that if we haven’t practiced on a regular basis, or with some of the newer handlers, if they have not been taught that previously, now is an opportunity for them to learn and take it back to their agency.”
Rivera and Naruto’s competitive nature paid off because they won the top dog’s title in the explosive detection competition. Officer Andrews Converse and his K9 partner Kova, at Austin Police Department with the University of Texas, were the winners of the hardest-hitting dog competition and Deputy Mark Bell & his K9 partner Ekter, with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department, were the winners of the narcotics detection competition.