Land and water K-9 dogs do it all

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sarah Martinez
  • 1 Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
It is a beautiful day at the sound at Hurlburt Field. The sun is warm and the water is calm. The bees and squirrels are buzzing and running about the flowers and trees. People can be seen fishing off their boats, hoping to catch the big one.

Then, in the blink of an eye, a dog sprints into the waters of the sound.

The dog bites furiously onto a man's arm. The man begins to hiss and crack his whip as if he is trying to provoke the dog even further. The dog growls loudly as she chomps on the man's arm.

Just as the battle of man versus man's best friend gets out of control, the word "heel" is screamed by a man waiting at the shore.

The dog releases her tight grip and races to her master.

The handler praises Britta, one of the K-9 dogs at the 1st Special Operation Security Forces Squadron, for a job well done. Luckily for the man in the water this was just an exercise.

This event, conducted at the sound July 14, is part of the 1st SOSFS's aggression training. The security forces squadron aims to hold this type of training once a quarter.

"It is all about building the dog's confidence to get through water because most dogs and cats do not like getting baths," said Tech. Sgt. Pedro Guerrero, 1st SOSFS acting kennel master and Britta's handler. "So, how can we get them to aggress when there is water everywhere?"

Being around water is part of being stationed at Hurlburt Field. The sound, which is located right outside the front gate, is where military members and their families go and spend time camping, swimming and enjoying various water activities.

"We do a lot of activities at the sound. People get belligerent then they get in the water thinking, 'the cops are not going to come in here and get me,'" said Sergeant Guerrero. "They think the cops are not going to get their gun or radio wet but nothing says the dog can't go out there."

The cops at the 1st SOSFS said that it is important to be prepared for anything and everything.

"Being a cop, there are a lot of 'what ifs'?" he said. "Every base is different and we tailor our training to our environment so we are prepared."

Dog handler is only one of the roles played in this type of training. There is also another person who plays the aggressor or decoy. The decoy wears the padded arm protection the dog bites on to when commanded to attack.

"The wrap is safe you hardly feel anything," said Staff Sgt. Roberto Matos, 1st SOSFS military working dog handler and aggressor. "I know what to do in case something goes wrong, like if the dog goes for my other arm I know not to move."

To be effective, the decoy has to really play the part for the dog.

"Every part of the training has to be positive for the dog," said Sergeant Guerrero. "As a decoy, it is important to make it fun for the dog or else the dog won't want to do what you ask."

After a couple of supervised water aggression attacks, Britta was put back into the cop car.

Little did she know, her water adventure was not over yet. As Sergeant Guerrero explained, "I'm pretty sure I am going to have to give her a bath right now and she is not going to like it."