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K-9 team earns certification

By Lance Cpl. Benjamin McDonald | Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort | September 18, 2017


A Marine and his military working dog became a certified K-9 team aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Sep. 20.

The provost marshal and the kennel master with the MCAS Beaufort Provost Marshal’s Office oversaw the certification of Cpl. Erik Powell and his military working dog, Joy. The certification scenarios were run in one of the storage warehouses on the air station and tested both the handler and the dog on their ability to work together.

“It takes a certain type of person to be a military working dog handler,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Peirce, the kennel master of MCAS Beaufort PMO. “They have to be the type of person who is always trying to take it to another level, willing to work harder than ever before, and most importantly, mature. They aren’t just a patrolman anymore, they are charged with caring for a living animal.”

A typical day starts off early for a dog handler. Each day the dogs are inspected, their kennels are scrupulously cleaned and then the handlers will ensure the dogs are physically trained a couple times a week. To build the bond between the handler and the dog, the handler must be fun and childish with the dog.

“You need to be confident enough to be silly in front of you dog, whether that’s using a high pitched voice or being loud and excited for them,” said Pierce. “It’s all about building rapport with your dog and getting him to work for you.”

Training drills are constant for both the handler and the dog. Each team will come to a duty after being trained and begin to work and train together. The trust and rapport that is built between the handler and dog is crucial when it comes to a real life scenario.

“When both the handlers and the dogs get here I am confident in the schooling they’ve had, but training is a continuous process,” said Lt. Col. William Butters, the Provost Marshal of MCAS Beaufort. “They both come here from their school houses and our team of policeman and Marines works with them to make sure they are trained. Once they are ready, I oversee and certify each handler and dog team.”

The certification ensures the team is proficient in obedience, biting and attack drills, and detection. For basic obedience, Powell performed marching movements with Joy. For detection validation, the dog and handler both were tested.

“To become a military working dog handler I did on the job training before I was able to go to school,” said Powell. “I spent 11 weeks in Lackland Air Force Base, Tex. for school, and immediately came back to the air station and began training with joy.”

Powell and Joy were able to complete accomplish their objectives and are now a certified military working dog team, ready to assist their unit with security and protection of the base.

 “I am extremely confident in every one of our dog teams,” said Butters. “We have a really experienced police officers and Marines who come together and make a great mix of knowledge and experience. I think that these two will make a great team and be an asset to our unit.”