The photographs are impressive, service men in full combat gear, with their dogs in action, ears upright, muscles tight, focused and alert.
Together they scaled walls, overcame obstacles, wrestled bad dudes down, searched and shot live ammunition, this was no joke, this was how the local K9 unit prepares for crisis scenarios.
The unit, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice, just concluded its International Canine Training Week and I cannot help but write about it in admiration.
When I look at my beloved four-legged, good-for-nothing couch potatoes who snooze all day, and compare them to their K9 brothers, I realize it’s probably all in the training, and it’s all my fault.
The 4th annual International Canine Training welcomed participants from Aruba, St. Maarten, and Australia, with an impartial observer, a judge, from the Netherlands, in charge of setting the bar high.
They went through a week of high-level training, and came out refreshed and updated.
Dick van Leenen at the helm of the unit, reports they are usually headquartered in Balashi, and this week dragged 10 handlers and seven dogs through difficult situations, in dog-hostile weather, successfully.
They even had the vet come out to talk to them about heat stroke and other threats to warriors working in the tropics in fur coats.
The K9 unit operates within the Aruba Correctional Institute, KIA, and is used for searches, and regular Police work in jail, detecting currency, drugs, and cell-phones. The dogs are also deployed as guards when high-risk prisoners are transported to court and back. They are on call 24/7 and van Leenen is proud to say that in a recent incident within KIA, his handlers and their dogs, restored peace and quiet in just about 20 minutes.
The unit ordinarily consists of 11 handlers and 12 dogs, all Dutch-born mutts, most of them are mixed Dutch shepherds that are medium-sized, well-proportioned, and well-muscled, very smart and ultra-trainable.
Dutch born Van Leenen spent 30 years with the Police in the Netherlands. On his last assignment he ran that country’s official Police dog academy, before being lured to the Caribbean and Aruba, recruited to put a K-9 program together here, that was 8 years ago.
Aruba is blessed by three K-9 units, working for the Police Department, the correctional institute and Customs, at the sea and air ports.
I will float some of the images of BOT-K9 ARUBA training. It’s impressive.