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In 1994 a few members of Region Three were talking about doing something different than the annual certification trials and training seminars. Something that would be fun, would still take a team effort by the handler and his/her canine, but would not involve a lot of unnecessary training for the canine.

What they came up with does not require any additional training for the canine, but DEFINITELY requires hours and hours of training for the handler. Called the "Iron Dog Endurance Run", the three-mile course through overgrown fields and wooded areas, is designed to test the ability of a handler and canine to move as quickly as possible through a pre-designed obstacle course. Obstacles include, but are not limited to: a 12" trough of water, 4' wide by 10' long that the handler and dog run through; numerous chain link fences that the team has to go over, under or through; railroad tie walls that have to be surmounted; a muddy wall, 10' high that the canine can easily jump to the top of, but the handler has to climb using a rope; a small lake, crossed using a row boat that the handler pulls himself across while his/her canine is hopefully laying calmly in the bow; a 50' section along the trail where the handler has to carry his/her canine; a water balloon shoot near the end of the run, where the handler, nearly out of breath, tries to break as many balloons as possible using a BB gun from a distance of 10 feet. As a team approaches the finish line they're confronted with an agitator in a bite suit. For patrol teams wishing to conclude their run with a bite, all they do is run across the finish line with the canine on lead and apprehend the agitator. As they cross the finish line the time is stopped. The handler then removes the canine from the agitator. For detector teams participating all they do is run across the finish line with their canine to stop their time. The bite is strictly optional. This is a timed exercise. Failure to surmount an obstacle will result in a time penalty. NOTE: This entire exercise is done on lead to avoid accidents.

     

Region Three invites all law enforcement agencies utilizing either patrol or detector canines to attend. Although encouraged, you do not need to be a member of the USPCA to participate. Medallions are awarded to all those who finish, regardless of time. Trophies are awarded for the top three best times for men under 30 years of age; top three best times for men 30-39; top three best times for men over 40; and top three best times for women, regardless of age. A 1st, 2nd & 3rd "Top Departmental Team" trophy is awarded to the top three departments whose three-man team has the best combined time.

If the intent of the members who dreamed of this event was to have a good time, they definitely succeeded. With only 20 participants in 1994 this annual event has grown each year since. And although tired, and maybe a little sore, everyone has always had a good time. In fact, this type of event has become so popular many other regions of the USPCA have started their own.