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Douglas County K-9s and their handlers take home trophies at regional trials

The training inside buildings, like the Alexandria Fire Department, paid off as the dogs and their handlers took home first place.

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Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Ben Jarvi and his K-9 partner, Hunter, recently trained inside the Alexandria Fire Department. The duo took home first place in room search while attending a narcotics trials certification in Brainerd April 2-3.
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DOUGLAS COUNTY – Two members of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office recently made the department very proud. Cain and Hunter, the department’s two K-9s, along with their handlers, Deputy Bob Peper and Deputy Ben Jarvi, took home first place trophies at the U.S. Police Canine Association Region 12 Narcotics Trials.

The regional trials took place April 2 and 3 in Brainerd.

Deputy Jarvi and Hunter took home first place in room search and then the two deputies and their dogs took first place when they competed as a department team.

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Douglas County Deputy Ben Jarvi and his K-9 partner, Hunter, took home a first place award at the U.S. Police Canine Association Region 12 Narcotics Trials that took place April 2-3 in Brainerd.
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Peper explained that the regional trials are held each year so that the dogs and their handlers can be certified.

Because this trial dealt with narcotics, the K-9s participated in a vehicle search. Five vehicles were lined up and they had to find the two where the drugs were hidden. They also participated in a room search where there were three different rooms and two of them had drugs hidden for the dogs to find.

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“Both dogs performed very well and we had a good time,” said Peper.

He added that how the dogs handled themselves at the trials is a true reflection of the kind of dogs they are on when they are on duty.

Cain and Hunter, along with their handlers, also competed as a two-man team in the department team competition. Peper said there were 53 dogs and handlers who competed in the team division and he and Jarvi, Cain and Hunter, took first place.

“Ben and I had the highest combined score among the other teams,” Peper said.

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Douglas County Deputy Bob Peper, left, and Deputy Ben Jarvi, along with their two K-9s, took first place when they competed as a department team at the U.S. Police Canine Association Region 12 Narcotics Trials. The trials were held in Brainerd April 2-3.
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Both of the sheriff's office K-9s are a Belgian Malinois/German shepherd mix and are dual purpose dogs, trained in handler protection, criminal apprehension, building and area searches, evidence recovery, tracking and narcotics detection.

The two deputies and their dogs spent quite a bit of time training for the trials and will be starting all that training over again as they have field trials in June. The three-day trials will take place in Monticello in Wright County, said Peper, noting that they are open to the public to come and watch.

“The feeling of relief doesn’t last long after the trials we just finished as we start preparing for the field trials in June,” said Peper.

Peper and Jarvi train with Cain and Hunter at least one hour per shift. They also do formal training where they travel to their training group. When training around Douglas County, Peper said they will often go into businesses, including schools, so that the dogs have different environments to search.

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“Our community is so supportive when it comes to letting us use their buildings and facilities,” said Peper. “It’s great to have different environments so the dogs have fresh environments to search in.”

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Douglas County Deputy Bob Peper is pictured with Cain, his K-9 partner who just competed in his first canine trials and did very well.
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The costs to have the two dogs can be significant, but Peper couldn’t stress enough how supportive the community has been in their donations to the Lakes Area Law Dog Foundation.

The nonprofit organization was formed in 2015 to help provide financial assistance for training, National K-9 Certification, seminars and equipment for trained police dogs and their handlers.

To help with costs, the foundation will be hosting its annual Support the Paws virtual walk/run again this fall. The event will take place Oct. 1 through Oct. 14.

As the event gets closer, more information will be available on the Lakes Area Law Dog Foundation’s Facebook page, facebook.com/LakesAreaLawDogFoundation/ .

For more information about the dogs and foundation, go to lawdogfoundation.org.

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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Organizers hope to make this an annual event.
A new episode is released every Tuesday and Thursday, giving readers a brief look at the stories found in Wednesday's and Friday's papers.