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K-9 competition in DL: Regional field trials open to public Monday, Tuesday

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DETROIT LAKES - Detroit Lakes Police Sgt. Robert Strand and his dog, Macho, have been practicing up for this week's U.S. Police Canine Association Region 18 Field Trials.

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"As long as we're on the same page, we're going good," Strand said of his training and competition with his K-9 Macho.

The three-day long event begins today (Sunday) with registration. Then on Monday the competition begins.

Strand said he is working daily with Macho to improve on their skills.

"We're focusing on the events of competition, trying to fine-tune everything," he said last week. "Make sure there are no issues come Monday."

K-9 teams, of which there are 90 signed up to compete, will compete in article searches, box searches, agility and obedience. The public is welcome at each event, and there will be a public demonstration that day.

During the article search portion of the competition, K-9s must find objects as simple and small as a book of matches, a credit card and a screwdriver. Dogs must locate two articles, which are determined the day before by drawing them out of a hat, in a certain space.

"This is a hard event to watch because each dog gets its own 30-by-30 square and it cannot be contaminated prior to articles being thrown into the square," Strand said.

The day of competition also includes finding decoys, agility tests jumping hurdles, climbing catwalks and crawling.

During the obedience portion of the competition, handlers unleash their dogs and walk different speeds, making random turns here and there.

"The objective is to show that the dog will walk by the handler's side, at the handler's speed and will turn and change direction when the handler does," he said.

Throughout the testing, teams must receive at least 70 percent or better to certify.

Tuesday's competition will consist of apprehension, with and without gunfire. There are a few categories within the apprehension department including recall, false start and finally letting the dog get his decoy.

"The object (of recall) is to get your dog to come back to you without apprehending the decoy. Not an easy task for some dogs because the drive in the dog is way up and it is trained to them as a game."

"When the dog catches the decoy the decoy is to fight the dog, moving the arm that the dog is biting from side to side, long enough for the judges to observe the bite."

At the Monday night public demonstration, there will be a parade of squad cars from the Holiday Inn to the Detroit Lakes High School football field, along North Shore Drive.

Once at the football field, there will be demonstrations of each of the competitions. There will also be an appearance from Life Flight helicopter and a fire truck and ambulance for kids to climb through. The Detroit Lakes High School Key Club will have a concession stand open from 5 to 5:30 p.m. as well.

Awards are given out to the top finishers in all of the events and top finishers overall.

"We can't stress enough that we want people to come out and check it out."

Monday

Events begin at 6 a.m.

- Box search at the DL Middle School.

- Agility at the DLHS football field.

- Obedience at the DLHS.

- 6 p.m. public demonstration is at the DLHS.

Tuesday

- 7 a.m. -- criminal apprehension at the DLHS football field.

- 8 a.m. -- criminal apprehension with gunfire and handler protection at the DL Middle School.

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