19.6.2012 US Army Alaska Story by Staff Sgt. Patricia McMurphy
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Videos of police dogs show the enormous strength, speed and agility they use to capture suspects.
One of her first jobs as an MP was working in a provost marshal office and though she said she liked her job, she wanted to be more involved, so her first sergeant asked her what she wanted to do.
“I want K-9,” Dalle said.
Dalle showed everyone that she had what it takes to be a dog handler by being chosen as “Top Dog” in Block 1 of the Military Working Dog Handlers Course at Lackland Air Base, Texas.
Block 1 consisted of basic obedience and all phases of the aggression in which military working dogs are trained, known as patrol work.
The dogs are trained in to assist in the apprehension of suspected criminals.
Dalle and the other students learned the commands and how to give rewards and corrections to get desired responses.
Before the students were assigned dogs to show what they could do, they were given “bucket dogs.”
The students were given empty ammo cans as stand-ins for dogs and had to give them commands to show they could properly correct and reward real canines.
“A lot [of us] were embarrassed to train on buckets and not real dogs [at first],” Dalle said. “But it was fun because everyone was embarrassed – I was. We had to use ‘praise voices’ – high pitched, motivated voices to get the dog [or bucket in this case] excited.”
After they mastered the buckets they were off to the real thing.
Dalle got to see what it was like to be one both ends of the leash, as the police and as the suspect or decoy.
Unlike real suspects, she wore special equipment to protect her from the canine’s mighty jaws.
“I was scared and excited at the same time,” Dalle said, referring to the first time she played the decoy. “Nobody wants to get bit, but it’s going to happen. I was running and when the dog came up and bit, it knocked me down.”
One of the most important things Dalle said she learned during her training was to always to have a good relationship with the dog and be motivated.
“Everything draws down leash,” Dalle said. “When you come in, be ready to go and your dog will be ready to go. As long as I was motivated the dog was too.”
Dalle is now back in Alaska and training with Gina, a 5-year-old German shepherd dog trained in patrol and explosives detection.
She will be going to her first certification next month to become a full-fledged K-9 handler.