Luke’s MWDs participate in 2019 Desert Dog Trials

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The 2019 Desert Dog Trails were held April 4-7 at Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, Ariz. The trials which tested military working dogs and their handlers in a series of events. Participants included officers from local police stations, corrections offices, sheriff’s offices and the 56th Security Forces Squadron.

Military working dogs form the 56th Security Forces Squadron at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., participated in the 2019 Desert Dog Trials, April 6, at Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, Ariz.

Two teams of MWDs ran in the trials which included obstacles such as jumping and running through a tunnel, scaling a six-foot wall, attacking decoys, and being carried by their handler.

Teams were judged based on how well the dog listened to its handler, its efficiency in navigating the course, and its ability to ignore distractions amongst other things.

“We were graded on things like how well our dogs completed an obstacle and verbally outing [calling] the dog off of a bite,” said Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Pedroza, 56th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler. “We also received more points if our dog was able to navigate obstacles without the assistance of a handler. As handlers, we received less points if we didn’t remain behind cover.”

A working dog with a local police department peeks its head through its handler’s legs, April 6, 2019 at Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, Ariz. As a kick-off to the 2019 Desert Dog Trials, all the handlers competing stood in formation during opening ceremonies.

Pedroza said she has been working with her MWD since January 2019, for the competition. Airmen and their MWDs spends hours training and preparing for the trials each year.

“Handlers were selected based on their ability and availability during the trials,” Pedroza said. “Those who competed this weekend actually gave up their time off to compete.”

Participating in events such as the Desert Dog Trials helps train the dogs and handlers for deployment situations Pedroza explained.

“Events like these help expose the dogs to as many different scenarios as possible and give the handlers different tools on what they could possible expect state side or down range,” Pedroza said. “Seeing these scenarios encourage us to set up similar ones to advance the training of our dogs.”

Rango, a military working dog assigned to the 56th Security Forces Squadron, sprints towards his handler during the 2019 Desert Dog Trials, April 6, at Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, Ariz. Teams ran a course with obstacles including running and jumping through a tunnel, attacking decoys and scaling a six-foot wall.

MWDs aren’t the only competitors in the Desert Dog Trials. 15 different police stations, correction offices and sheriff departments also come out to show off their skills in the competition. Though MWDs are trained differently for deployment environments, a lot of the skillsets are the same.

“There are 53 teams that competed this year,” said Rod Mamero, Arizona Law Enforcement Canine Association public information officer. “Though not all the teams compete in every event.”

Pedroza explained this year was a new and unique time for her. Having only been paired with her dog, Frida, for the past six months comes with more challenges then a team who has been together for years.  This is her third time competing in the Desert Dog Trials.

“Frida is a privilege to work with,” Pedroza said. “The last two years for trials I had competed with a different dog. Competing this year was a mixture of nervousness and excitement.”

With all the teams competing, placing high proved difficult, but Staff Sgt. Cameron Mcfadden, 56th SFS MWD handler took the top spot in narcotics detections.

Police officers take a break during the 2019 Desert Dog Trials, as they wait for the next participant enter the field, April, 6, at Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, Ariz. Decoys wear bite suits to protect themselves from the dogs strong bite.

 

Spectators watch as a working dog and its handler work through an obstacle at the 2019 Desert Dog Trials, April, 6, at Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, Ariz. The Desert Dog Trials have been hosted in the community for more than 15 years and test the teamwork and communication between handlers and the working dogs.

 

Frida, a Military Working Dog assigned to the 56th Security Forces Squadron, takes down a decoy in the 2019 Desert Dog Trials, April, 6, at Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, Ariz. During the three-day event teams competed in multiple courses, including handler protection, building searches, agility obstacles, and a narcotics detection.

 

Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Pedroza, 56th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, pushes Frida, her MWD, over a six-foot wall during the 2019 Desert Dog Trials, April 6, at Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, Ariz. As part of the course, Frida needed to scale the wall and attack the decoy on the other side while being distracted by all the toys in the pit.

 

Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Pedroza, 56th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, carries Frida, her MWD, April 6, 2019, at Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, Ariz. Pedroza and Frida were one of two teams from Luke Air Force Base that participated in the 2019 Desert Dog Trials.

 

A panel of judges totals up a team’s points after their run at the 2019 Desert Dog Trials, April 6, at Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, Ariz. 53 teams participated in the three-day event, after which the points were tallied and winners announced the 56th Security Forces Squadron team of Staff Sgt. Cameron Mcfadden and Rango earned 1st place in narcotics detection.