By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
Jan. 9, 2009 - If, as the saying goes, every dog has its day, then four military police dogs certainly will have theirs when they help to provide security for President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration. "The dogs that are going to be going out there ... [are] patrol certified," Army Staff Sgt. Sarah Goulart, training noncommissioned officer in charge for the 947th Military Police Detachment, said. "That means they can do security missions, [and] if they need to be released on somebody, they can be released to detain them."
Since the unit, part of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, or "The Old Guard," regularly supports the president and the Secret Service, it's all in a day's work for these dogs, Goulart said. They put in at least four hours a week in both explosives detection and patrol training.
Mike, a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois, is one of the four dogs whose training has led him to the plum assignment of providing security on Inauguration Day.
His handler, Army Staff Sgt. Daniel Konrardy, has no doubts about his four-legged partner's ability to handle the craziness of the day.
"Have you ever seen the series, '24' with Kiefer Southerland? I kind of expect that, just every hour things just being so busy and changing," he said. "Hopefully nobody gets real close to my dog."
The dogs are very good with crowds, Konrardy said. The only thing that sets Mike off is gunfire.
"Hopefully we won't be hearing any gunfire," he said.
The dog and handler had a rather unpromising beginning before their relationship straightened out. Mike's attitude had caused him to be passed over by every other handler coming into the kennel, Konrardy said.
"Finally I got here, and he was the only one left," Konrardy said. "[I showed] him a lot of love, and it worked. He's a good dog. He's just special."
In this case, "special" is code for "relative of Jaws."
"He loves biting things," Konrardy said. "He lost three of his [canine teeth], or parts of three of his canines, from just biting things.
"He's a masochist. He loves pain," he joked. "I'm not a dog psychologist, but I'd be interested to have him looked at by one." At first, Mike's favorite thing to bite was his handler, Konrardy said, which resulted in several shredded Army combat uniforms.
Konrardy said he and Mike will start their Inauguration Day duties in support of the Secret Service on Jan. 15, with a Jan. 23 end date.
As impressive as their upcoming mission sounds, it's part of everyday life for the military dogs of the 947th MP Detachment.
"We get a lot of Secret Service missions," Konrardy said. "This Christmas, me and Mike were up at Camp David. We were just searching vehicles up there."