ISLE OF WIGHT, Va. (WVEC) — There aren't many days when you meet both a professional partner and someone who will live with you at home for years to come.
That's why future trainers at American K9 Interdiction said they were a little nervous ahead of Tuesday, the day they would meet the dogs for the start of their multi-week training course at AK9I.
"I'm a kid in a candy store," handler Ryan Insana said. "I mean I love working with dogs."
The handlers will train their dogs to master a variety of skills, depending on future work requirements. These include sniffing out explosive threats, drugs, and other items. Some dogs also receive bite-training.
After the course, each handler will return to work with a new partner at his or her side.
"You know these dogs are going to be your partners for the next 15 years or so, so it's a big deal," handler David Curtis said.
Curtis matched with his dog Abby in a previous training course and the two of them complete sweeps in the Hampton Roads area. He said this training program offers new hope for former military members.
"Especially because, you know, I'm a veteran and we're all going through things," he said. "Getting out of the Army she's always there with unconditional love, and she's a great partner."
Insana said he's looking for a natural connection with his dog.
"You have to have a bond, that's number one," he said. "If you and your dog don't mesh and don't work well together, then you can't build that trust there."
The dogs are often German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois or Labradors. The handlers will begin to train the dogs after pairing up, eventually elevating training to complex sweeps and other skills.
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