By Tanya Fogg Young (Special to The Citizen)May 2, 2011
STUTTGART, Germany, May 2, 2011 -- Staff Sgt. Brutus wowed Patch Elementary kindergartners recently with his ability to find hidden rounds of ammunition and help apprehend a "suspect."
Paws down, the military working dog with the 554th Military Police Company K-9 Section impressed the youngsters during an April 26, 2011, demonstration on the grounds outside of the USAG Stuttgart Provost Marshal Office on Patch Barracks, Germany.
As part of their ongoing study of various community workers, 40-plus kindergartners toured the Provost Marshal Office building, examined police car lights and sirens, stepped inside a holding cell and saw examples of Brutus' capabilities as a military working dog.
Sgt. Brad Carrico hid a small wooden box containing 50 rounds of bullets, and in minutes, Brutus had sniffed them out and led his handler, Sgt. Jamie Decker, to Carrico's hiding spot behind some shrubbery along a wall.
"Where his nose was told me where the rounds were," Decker explained to the students as he rewarded Brutus with his pull toy for a job well done.
As part of the K-9 demonstration, Sgt. Richard Rivera, wearing protective gear on his upper body and arms, played the role of a suspect on the run as Brutus -- obeying Decker's commands -- gave chase. Brutus, with relative ease, subdued the "suspect" until Decker came over to "apprehend" him amidst squeals of excitement from the young onlookers.
Carrico explained that Brutus' job was to knock Rivera down, not hurt him.
"I liked seeing that he could run really fast trying to catch the bad guy," said Bo Crews, 6.
Teachers Barbara Anderson and Cindy Hoffmann said that they hoped the students gained a better understanding of law enforcement and will perhaps feel less apprehensive when encountering military police officers.
"The idea is for them to learn a little bit about what MPs do and know that if they ever have a problem, MPs are safe persons to talk to," Anderson said.
Staff Sgt. Michael Moore, who led the kindergartners on a tour of the Provost Marshal Office, echoed Anderson's sentiments.
"Hopefully the experience here shows that we're the good guys -- friendly and approachable," he said.
Decker and Carrico emphasized to the youngsters that Brutus was a working dog and not a pet, giving them careful instructions on do's and don'ts for interacting with him. After the demonstrations, students were allowed to pet Brutus as Decker instructed them not to get near his mouth or attempt to take his toy away from him.
"I liked petting the dog," said Allison Carvel, 5. "I knew it was OK."
As Decker held the rope end of the pull toy while Brutus contentedly tugged on its rubber end, the handler explained that the interaction with the youngsters was good training for the nearly 10-year-old German shepherd.
"(Brutus) is retiring soon," Decker said. "He's worked hard for a long time and now he's going to make somebody a good pet."