By SPC Alicia T. ClarkJuly 25, 2011
Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. -- A Soldier with the 51st Military Police Detachment takes off on a command from his partner in hot pursuit of a fleeing suspect, kicking up dust in his wake.
Blitz, a military police dog, and his handler, Sgt. Eric Harter, 51st Military Police Detachment, work together as partners to detect explosives and perform regular patrols at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
In order to build a bond with a canine partner, a handler must put in long hours training their dogs, spending time with them, playing with them, walking them and cuddling them, much like a pet.
“Sometimes the dogs don’t trust you right away, so you have to spend time earning their trust,” said Harter.
Harter was recently assigned Blitz as a partner. The two have spent the past several months working to develop a bond so that they can pass certifications and continue to work together.
“Other people’s lives depend on us, so we work hard and train hard together as a team,” said Harter, a native of Vancouver, Wash. “It’s like no other bond I’ve had with any other Soldier I’ve worked with.”
Harter described the bond with his dog in much the same way as he would a fellow battle buddy.
“When we work with fellow Soldiers, it has to be a tight knit group,” said Harter. “It’s the same with you and your dog as a team. You have to be able to work together, kind of feel each other out and know each other’s responses to what’s going to happen.”
While Harter and Blitz are still creating a bond together, Harter has worked with other military police dogs in the past and has deployed to Iraq with a canine partner.
“They’re just as driven and determined as Soldiers are,” said Harter.
In the end, the speed and agility of the canine Soldier was no match for the fleeing suspect as he caught up to the decoy and apprehended him as quickly as his name implied. There he waited for his two-legged partner to catch up to the action before responding to Harter’s commands to release and guard the suspect.