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Sgt. Christopher Jasper sends his German Shepherd, Argo, after a simulated suspect during the controlled aggression portion of the 4th Annual U.S. Forces Korea Military Working Dog Competition.

Sgt. Christopher Jasper sends his German Shepherd, Argo, after a simulated suspect during the controlled aggression portion of the 4th Annual U.S. Forces Korea Military Working Dog Competition. (Jimmy Norris / S&S)

Sgt. Christopher Jasper sends his German Shepherd, Argo, after a simulated suspect during the controlled aggression portion of the 4th Annual U.S. Forces Korea Military Working Dog Competition.

Sgt. Christopher Jasper sends his German Shepherd, Argo, after a simulated suspect during the controlled aggression portion of the 4th Annual U.S. Forces Korea Military Working Dog Competition. (Jimmy Norris / S&S)

South Korean Air Force Sgt. Lee Byung-chae and his German Shepherd, Tae-su, hurtle a barricade during the fitness and endurance course.

South Korean Air Force Sgt. Lee Byung-chae and his German Shepherd, Tae-su, hurtle a barricade during the fitness and endurance course. (Jimmy Norris / S&S)

Air Force Sgt. John Garcia, 8th Security Forces Squadron, and his Belgian Malenois, Iian, take a breather after finishing the fitness and endurance course.

Air Force Sgt. John Garcia, 8th Security Forces Squadron, and his Belgian Malenois, Iian, take a breather after finishing the fitness and endurance course. (Jimmy Norris / S&S)

Betty, a German Shepherd, waits for her handler, Air Force Staff Sgt. Nazriah Green, to emerge from one of the obstacles on the fitness and endurance course.

Betty, a German Shepherd, waits for her handler, Air Force Staff Sgt. Nazriah Green, to emerge from one of the obstacles on the fitness and endurance course. (Jimmy Norris / S&S)

Ji Eun-sun, Samsung Search and Rescue, gives a bottle of water to her parched English Springer Spaniel, Bo-bae after finishing the fitness and endurance course.

Ji Eun-sun, Samsung Search and Rescue, gives a bottle of water to her parched English Springer Spaniel, Bo-bae after finishing the fitness and endurance course. (Jimmy Norris / S&S)

YONGIN, South Korea — As Argo bounded across the endurance course finish line, he was moving at high speed.

He’d just completed a mile-and-a-half course of steep grades, dense foliage and various obstacles. When he wasn’t slogging through mud on the rain-soaked trail, he was hurdling barricades or belly-crawling through tunnels.

Trailing behind him was his slightly winded partner, military policeman Sgt. Christopher Jasper. The two had pushed themselves through the course in about 13 minutes.

Though no one could tell by the finish, Argo, a 7-year-old German shepherd, was injured. After soaking his paws in mud created by the previous day’s rain, he’d hit the dry downhill cement, slipped, and tore a pad.

“He was moving at full stride as he hit the finish line,” said veterinarian Capt. Nic Cabano after applying a styptic powder to numb the wound. “No one could tell he was hurt until his handler did the post-run check. That shows how good the handlers are.” Thursday’s fitness and endurance course was the final event in the 4th annual USFK Military Working Dog Competition, where for three days the bond between handler and working dog was tested. Twenty-three dog-handler teams from the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, South Korean air force and Samsung Search and Rescue competed in numerous events.

On Wednesday afternoon, rain-soaked handlers sent their dogs into attack mode against military police who wore specially designed bite suits — then tried to call the charging canines off at the last second during the controlled-aggression event.

Many attempts were unsuccessful, putting some decoys on the receiving end of jaws capable of breaking bone.

Officials at the event said the heavy rain, and the presence of multiple dogs each getting a turn to attack, may have contributed to some handlers’ inability to stop the dogs on the first try, but it’s this kind of event that reinforces their training.

“In law enforcement it’s a handler’s decision whether or not to release a dog,” said Daegu Area Kennel Master Staff Sgt. John McLean. “It’s like I tell my soldiers. You’ve got a ‘nine mil’ at your side. You’ve got a dog at your side. They’re both deadly weapons, and you have to consider the consequences before you use either one.”

On Tuesday teams searched for explosives and drugs.

While U.S. military units usually train with real drugs, and explosive samples, this competition used towels that had been wrapped around contraband items until the odor was absorbed because it was held at a civilian venue.

The event ended Friday with an awards ceremony and canine demonstration.

The competition also provided a chance for handlers to learn new techniques, said event coordinator Master Sgt. Andrew Baxter.

“Everyone I have talked to around here said they have learned a lot, so I consider this event a success,” he said.

While Samsung, which hosted the event at its kennel and training area, won two of the top categories in the event — Top Dog and Best Kennel Team — other awards were more evenly dispersed among the competitors (see box at right).

Baxter said winning the events came down to a combination of the abilities of both the dogs and the handlers.

“It’s a combination of how much experience the handler has and how much desire he has to do the job, how good the dog’s nose and physical fitness are, and how well they work together,” he said. “Can they understand each other? Dogs tell their handlers exactly what’s going on if they’re trained properly.”

Successful competitors throughout the comptetition echoed his sentiments.

“It’s about trusting your dog,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Nazriah Green, who along with her German shepherd, Betty, won the explosives detection competition. “If she says there’s something there, I believe there’s something there.”

TOP DOG: Park Nam-sun and Woo-ri, an English springer spaniel – Samsung Search and Rescue

TOP KENNEL TEAM: Samsung Search and Rescue

BEST PATROL: Sgt. Christopher Jasper and Argo, a German shepherd – Yongsan Garrison

FITNESS AND ENDURANCE:

1st: Park Nam-sun and Woo-ri2nd: Sgt. Christopher Jasper and Argo3rd: Lee Min-gyun and Kum-kang, a German shepherd – Samsung Search and RescueNARCOTICS DETECTION:

1st: Park Nam-sun and Woo-ri2nd: Senior Airman Kyle Alltop and Daro, a German shepherd – Osan Air Base3rd: Sgt. David Hickcox and Izi, a German shepherd – Camp HumphreysEXPLOSIVE DETECTION:

1st: Air Force Staff Sgt. Nazriah Green and Betty, a German shepherd – Osan Air Base2nd: Ji Eun-sun and Bo-bae, an English springer spaniel – Samsung Search and Rescue3rd: Oh Yong-tae and Bor-am, an English springer spaniel – Samsung Search and RescueOBEDIENCE:

1st: Sgt. David Hickcox and Izi2nd: Sgt. Christopher Jasper and Argo3rd: Air Force Staff Sgt. Jose Cadena and Damon, a German shepherd – Kunsan Air BaseCONTROLLED AGGRESSION:

1st: Spc. Andrew Guptil and Javor, a German shepherd — Yongsan Garrison2nd: Sgt. Richard Patrick and Ares, a German shepherd – Camp Carroll3rd: Lee Min-gyun and Kum-kangThe two categories below were for fun and wins did not count toward scoring.

PET TRICKS: Air Force Staff Sgt. Jose Cadena and Damon

HARDEST-HITTING DOG: Damon

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