News: K-9 unit showcases hard work at competition
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - The bond between a man and his dog is one that cannot be matched. This tie was shown for three of Camp Pendleton’s military working dog handlers when their trust and connection was put to the test.
On Feb. 19, Cpl. Jonathan T. Overland, Cpl. Angelo Melendez III and Cpl. Sky Bryson all competed with their beloved companions in an Iron Dog Competition at March Air Reserve Base.
The mile-long obstacle course challenged each pair’s true connection with each other while testing each dog’s obedience, endurance and detection abilities.
“The goal was to negotiate the obstacles with your dog without interruption,” said Cpl. Angelo Melendez III, who placed second in the tactical obedience portion of the competition. “Each portion of the course was different, so it really helped recognize your strengths and weaknesses.”
Although Melendez and his dog, Blesk, didn’t place first, he said he now knows what areas he and his best friend need to train harder in.
“To me, second place is last,” Melendez said. “But you are your own worst critic. I set the bar high and I do it for a reason. This competition just taught me that I need to push me and my dog a little bit further and harder to get where I want us to be.”
Camp Pendleton’s K-9 unit has been participating in this competition since 2007 after attending the Annual War Dog Memorial put on by the “Feed the Dawgs” organization. Every year the memorial and organization recognizes military K-9 handlers and hosts a barbecue after the Iron Dog competition.
Lt. Benjamin Maple, Pendleton’s K-9 Master, said their hard work truly paid off since seven of the trophies awarded, Pendleton Marines brought home three.
“The whole course was a serious challenge,” said Bryson, who placed second in the Endurance portion of the race with his dog Rocky. “But it’s [our] level of trust and understanding with each other that helped me and Rocky finish.”
Overland and his dog, Cann, received the overall Top Dog award.
Overland’s dog is named after Sgt. Adam L. Cann, who was the first dog handler killed in action since Vietnam, said Maple. So when Overland brought home the highest award for the competition, it really hit home.
“I wasn’t around for Sgt. Cann, but his legacy truly lives on through the Marines who work over here at the K-9 unit,” said Melendez. “Taking this job for granted is like taking his name in vain because of the path he has paved for all of the [military dog handlers].”
Through competitions, hard work and everyday duties, the Marines at Pendleton’s K-9 unit along with their four-legged heroes continue to serve and protect the base and train harder to be best they can be.
Date Posted:03.12.2012 16:35
Location:CAMP PENDLETON, CA, US
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