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Cpl. Michael Davis, a military working dog handler with the Provost Marshal's Office Kennel and a Bonanza, Ore., native, takes a bite from Astor during aggression training at the PMO Kennel aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Feb. 13. Handlers like Davis allow dogs to bite them while practicing aggression training.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns

Miramar military working dogs take over The Great Escape

25 Feb 2013 | Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns

He assisted in the arrests of more than five people and more than 100 narcotic detections. He participated in more than 1,000 training sessions during his five-year duty here with the Provost Marshal’s Office Kennel.
 
Meet Lutyo, a military working dog and a 7-year-old German Shepherd.

“[Lutyo is] great,” said Cpl. Nicholas Aguirre, Lutyo’s handler and a Banning, Calif., native. “He has a great drive and is one of the hardest hitting dogs at the kennel. I’ve been working with him for a month now, trying to build a good rapport, to show him that he can trust me, and so I can trust him.”
 
With this kind of professional animal, good rapport can mean a world of difference – especially when the dog is as enthusiastic about his work as his handler.
 
“Lutyo is very strong, independent and he’s one of our better dogs,” said Officer Eric Vega, a handler with the PMO Kennel and an Anaheim, Calif., native. “Drugs or bombs, Lutyo is really confident of his abilities. He doesn’t need constant reassurance from his handler like some other dogs do and that proves how confident he is.”
 
In combination with Lutyo’s hard working nose and Aguirre’s know how, some problems just don’t stand a chance. This duo’s ability showed during a narcotic detection exercise at The Great Escape, Feb. 13.
 
“It was no surprise when Lutyo breezed through the problem we had for the dogs and handlers,” said Vega. “He puts out 110 percent effort every single time, and so does Cpl. Aguirre.”
 
During the training, Aguirre and Lutyo searched for the scents of drugs they would look for when called while on patrol. Training like this is necessary to keep dogs and handlers from losing their abilities, explained Vega.
 
Before the training even begins, handlers hide tins called aids containing the drugs in various places throughout the recreational center. Once hidden, the dogs and their handlers come in to solve this scent-finding puzzle.
 
The dog’s specific job is to find the scent of the aid. To do this, the dog brackets back and forth along a field looking for the “scent cone.”

The aid is the tip of the scent cone, the scent flows outward in a cone-like shape, but as the scent gets further away from its origin it gets weaker. The closer the dogs get to the training aid, or narcotic, the stronger and more reliable the scent becomes, leading the dog to the aid.

Once the dog finds the scent at its strongest point, the dog receives his reward and the aids or narcotics are properly removed.
 
Sometimes, while performing these kinds of detections in the field, defense of their handlers becomes necessary. Either a suspect becomes violent to themselves, others or to the handlers while trying to escape, making aggression and bite training crucial in neutralizing the threat.
 
Aggression training is also performed on a regular basis, allowing dogs and handlers alike to keep themselves ever ready for missions ahead.
 
After training more, Aguirre and Lutyo will undergo certification tests to ensure they can search for drugs and criminals aboard the air station without the aid of another handler; and without being questioned if they are good enough.
 
With both handler and dog’s drive to be the best they can, MCAS Miramar should be in good hands – and paws.


3rd Marine Aircraft Wing