SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - A German Shepherd is sent racing across the rink in Summerside’s Silver Fox Entertainment Complex before sinking her teeth with ferocity into a criminal’s arm – in this case, a fully padded sleeve worn by its handler Raino Fluegge as a simulation – before being lifted off the ground in a vain attempt to shake her free.
The protection dog called Wynne vom Kiebitzende then obediently released her arm-lacerating bite with Fluegge’s sharp command and went back to be a child-friendly canine, while spectators watched in awe at the morning sequence, which was part of a larger event hosted by the P.E.I. Dog Expo on Saturday, Oct. 13.
“German Shepherds have intelligence, utility, and are so versatile. Their build and instinct make them ideal for this sport, as well as being happy around a group of people like this, but at the same time they can go after what we call a ‘bad guy,” explained Isis Fluegge after the demonstration.
The father and daughter duo based in Kensington work on handling and searching skills, apprehending a suspect, reading their dog’s mannerisms and everything else that comes with training, as well as building a strong foundation of trust.
“It starts off with being all motivational as a big game of tug-and-war, and then we develop this as the dog matures. For the dog its 90 percent prey and then 10 percent natural instinct, and we work on this,” she continued.
The dogs can be used in a variety of criminal instances, scent detection, explosives, and any sort of elite military unit.
“But for us it’s our hobby and we want to compete internationally, so we have taken their basic training and perfected it to what we want for our competitions overseas,” acknowledged Isis.
Raino, who has competed in more than 30 countries, says trust is fundamental.
“I’ve been in countries like the Ukraine and it’s not always like we think it is, so you have to have a dog with solid nerves and temperament just to bring 100 percent to the rink when competing.”
Handling to maintain the highest level of skills never stops.
“First of all it takes the highest knowledge of dog body language when performing a criminal simulation in the rink, and you need to have a physical ability to catch the dog,” added Raino.
He continued, “If the dog shows any fear or nerves then I don’t train it because why would you add any more pressure when the dog is not capable? I always say, ‘not every kid can go to university,’ and that’s not a big deal. It’s the same thing here.”
At the end of the day, the dogs are all considered family members.
“They are our buddies. It’s a lifestyle,” concluded Raino matter-of-factly as Wynne nuzzled his leg.