MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
When most people think of base security they think of the Marine Corps Police Department, but within that organization is an even more effective crime deterrent - the military working dog.
These dogs stand ready to protect the base by detecting with a sniff of their wet noses many types of harmful substances before they enter the base.
With an acute sense of smell five to 10 times stronger than the human sense of smell, working dogs are able to detect minute traces of explosives or illegal drugs and alert their handlers of its presence.
Without the training their human handlers give them, they would be like any other dog.
When a new military working dog arrives here they have undergone basic training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. The 120-day program teaches the dog basic obedience as well as more advanced skills, such as how to attack and how to sniff for specific substances.
Training begins with basic obedience, said Angela Dunwoodie, kennel master, MCPD, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.
“Obedience is the basis for all training before they move on to anything else,” she said. “They have to learn to sit, stay or march first.”
Dunwoodie said after the basic skills are learned, they are taught more advanced skills where they learn to search, scout for individuals, track, search buildings and vehicles, and detect explosives and illegal drugs.
With their handlers, military working dogs develop their skills over time and become more advanced through constant training.
“We train every single day, and it is continuous training,” Dunwoodie said.
Eric Brown, K-9 handler, MCPD, said the base uses two types of dogs for rigorous work here. They are Belgium Malinois and German shepherd breed dogs that are moderately aggressive, smart, loyal and possess athletic traits that are needed when going through the rigors of detecting illegal substances and attacking a criminal who could harm someone.
According to Dunwoodie, the daily training involves keeping the dogs fit. Located in the kennel compound is an obstacle course the dogs use daily to sharpen their muscle memory.
They jump over walls, run through tunnels and train going up and down stairs. Doing this daily keeps the dog familiarized with any obstacles they might have to negotiate in its lifetime.
Beyond the daily training, the working dogs are an integral part of the police department like any other crime-fighting tool with one exception. They are more loyal than any piece of police gear.
“We rely on them very much,” Dunwoodie said. “It is the best job in the world that you could have. It’s very rewarding.”