WIESBADEN, Germany – Recently, local school age kids were able to watch a military working dog capabilities demonstration as part of CYS’ summer program at the School Age Center on Clay Kaserne.
“We put together an interesting summer program for the kids every year. This year, that includes a visit to the fire department, an airfield tour and a demonstration of MWD’s by military police," said Kori Lekar, Training and Curriculum Specialist at the Clay Kaserne SAC.
Audience members were able to see the dog’s ability to sense, detect and apprehend ‘padded suspects’, and witness the close partnership each handler has with his working dog. Following the demonstration, the kids in attendance were allowed to meet the dog handlers and their K-9 partners to ask questions.
Learning about the abilities of the working dogs to sense and detect suspects, and then to apprehend possible criminals stirred the curiosity of many of the youngsters in the audience, including eight-year-old Lee, who wanted to know about the ‘bad guys’ military working dog Montauk has caught.
“There are very few bad guys in the footprint of U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden,” responded Staff Sgt. Mathew Dobson of the 525th Military Police Detachment (MWD) following the demonstration of his dog Montauk’s abilities.
The fact there are so few ‘bad guys’ can be attributed to the partnership of Dobson and Montauk, and excellent police work by Garrison law enforcement professionals.
U.S. Army military working dogs receive their "basic training" at Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas. The mission of the 341st Training Squadron is to provide trained military working dogs to the Department of Defense, other government agencies and allies. Future and potential military dogs arrive for training at 18 months of age and go through a rigorous training program which includes spending time and training with their potential handler. While at Lackland AFB, a future working dog will be trained on such activities as how to sense and detect explosives or drugs, or to take on protective tasks.
Dogs that successfully complete the program will move on to serve as police working dogs at the approximate age of three years old. A good working dog can expect to serve for about nine years before retirement. Retired working dogs are often adopted by their handlers and will spend a comfortable retirement relaxing on the couch and enjoying a slower pace of life.
Ability to detect and separate smells
Humans rely on their eyes to negotiate their environment, but a dog depends on their strong sense of smell. The canine's sense of smell is so precise that it can recall and detect a scent long before a human can detect the same scent.
“How do the dogs know the difference between good and bad,” asked audience member Jiraiya.
“His extremely well-developed nose helps him to do this…(and) that is why we use German Shepherds or Belgian Malinois," said Dobson in response to one the many questions. “Both breeds have long muzzles and thus an excellent sense of smell.”
A dog’s olfactory organ is its nasal mucosa. Due to the long shape of the snout, the nasal mucosa is correspondingly larger than in other mammals, including humans. Dogs perceive and store, in their memory, odors that it has detected throughout its life and these “scent memories” can be recalled as needed. A dog’s nose has an additional special feature which allows it to interpret two separate smells. The two nostrils of a dogs nose can work independently of each other to detect two different smells separately and not be confused as to what scents are being detected. This is important for military working dogs when tracking the ‘bad guys’ or during other searches.
"Once Montauk banged on the front door of an abandoned house…since it was in a residential area, we called the German police,” said Dobson. “In fact homeless people had broken into the house to spend the night," Dobson recalling an event from his time with Montauk and a time when the canine’s keen sense of smell detected trouble.
Unique aspects of a dog's smell capabilities:
- While the human nose has about 5 million olfactory cells, dogs have up to 250 million olfactory cells, depending on their size and breed.
- Wolves can scent their prey over a distance of up to 3 kilometers
- Avalanche dogs can smell buried prey up to a snow height of 8 meters and more
- Like the human fingerprint, the dog's nose print is unique in the world.
- A moist (not wet) dog nose is an indication that your dog is healthy.
- Dogs are able to smell if a person is aggressive, sad or friendly.