FORT HOOD, Texas - The 226th Military Police Detachment (Military Working Dog), 720th Military Police Battalion, hosted their first Central Texas Working Dog Competition here March 6-10.
Sgt. 1st Class Jeffery Pearlstein, kennel master for 226th MP Det., was excited to have a chance to build strong bonds between Fort Hood and outside police agencies by competing and training together.
“We’ve got to build these foundations,” he said. “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.”
Throughout the week handlers and their dogs from nine outside agencies and Fort Hood were able to show off their skills during the hardest hitting dog competition and the obstacle course events while also having opportunities to learn new training techniques and how to perform life saving procedures, like a tracheostomy, on their four-legged partners.
Staff Sgt. Jay Espinosa, squad leader for 226th MP Det., said the purpose of hosting the competition was to build a stronger bond between Fort Hood and outside agencies as well as teach and learn new training techniques.
“There’s a stigma that everybody trains the same, but we don’t,” he said. “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, canine handler with the Coryell County Sheriff’s Office, and his partner Kraken; and Spc. Jarima Rivera, 226th MP Det., and her partner Naruto were excited to compete.
“I like competing,” Rivera shared. “I’m a competitor. I don’t like to lose.”
“(Kraken) is excited,” Ashley said. “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.”
They both were happy to be competing and learning from multiple different agencies.
“We’re mainly surrounded by military and everybody does the same thing,” Rivera said. “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.”
“I’m sure that each agency will find something that they can take back with them and apply in their own personal discipline,” Ashley said. “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 title of top dog in the explosive detection competition. Officer Andrews Converse and his K9 partner Kova, with the University of Texas at Austin Police Department, were the winners of the hardest hitting dog competition and Deputy Mark Bell and his K9 partner Ekter, with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department, were the winners in the narcotics detection competition.