SP Kennel is a premier sled dog racing kennel in Two Rivers, Alaska, dedicated to the individual dog through excellent health, nutrition, training and specialized care.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Update from Kandahar, Afghanistan Musher's Association - Members 1

Military planes flying over
by: Wes Brightman
It’s been a month since my last walk along the Two River’s trails with a bunch of hyper dogs running circles around me. At that time we were just starting the research study.  I am thankful they are not with me now as it is 105 degrees nearly every day and there are no puddles or mud for them to play in. We are located very close to the Kandahar Air Force base which I was amazed to find out is one of the busiest military airports in the WORLD! It seems every minute there is something flying over. Aircraft range from F-16’s to 747’s, C-130’s and the highly amazing Drones! Unfortunately, they also fly 24hrs a day and last night it sounded like the Starship Enterprise was taking off over our heads at 2am. 
Wes and German Shepherd Puppy
I have kept myself busy setting up the finance department for a US Agency for International Development (USAID) project in Southern Afghanistan. The project is designed to strengthen government services at the district level. It may sound complicated, but basically we are trying to assist the Afghan government in delivering their services and helping the citizens be aware of what public programs are available to them.

I was happy to get here and find six German Shepherd puppies terrorizing our compound.  They are about 6 months old. Their mother is one of the bomb sniffing dogs that checks all cargo coming into the facility. I have learned a lot about bomb dogs recently and am so impressed with their training and development. In some ways they are very lucky dogs because they get to play every day for hours. For them, bomb sniffing is a game of hide and seek.  They think their handler has hidden something with a certain smell somewhere on the car and they have to find it.  When they do, they get a treat. In reality, we would hope these dogs never find anything. However, if the dogs never find anything they lose interest. Their handlers have tiny sealed packs of different explosive materials that they sometimes hide on the vehicles just to give the dogs something to find occasionally. This keeps the dogs motivated and alert.  When they aren’t sniffing cars and trucks, they are relaxing in a cool, air-conditioned unit.  The puppies are in training still.  They spend an hour or two in the courtyard each day playing in the grass and digging in the flower beds.
Puppies playing in the flowerbed
It made me think about all the research that we did this summer with the SP Kennel dogs.  Researching what can be done to improve the hydration and performance of these dogs.  When it is as hot as it is here, you can see why it is so important.  As I was playing with the pups this morning, a thought occurred to me.  By the time the puppies develop into trained bomb dogs, they might benefit from SP Kennel's involvement in canine research projects.  It makes all the hours the staff have spent walking and testing the dogs over the past six weeks really worth it.  In the long run, the work of the kennel crew and dogs could end up saving lives. It's nice to be able to give back!


Margaret said...

Thank you Wes for your hydration observations!!!

Keep safe!!! Stick with the German Shepherds and bomb-sniffers, that should help.

And I so am proud of SP Kennel's contributions to learning more about science and how dogs can be involved in making a safer world.

Linda Toth said...

WES !!!

Great update and perspective on the results of the research SPK did this summer. I am so glad you are well and keep you in my thoughts often.


Anonymous said...

Great to hear your interesting update from Afghanistan, Wes. Informally
ambassadoring sled dog research across the world will hopefully help in many ways. Stay very safe and I agree with Linda, stick close to those smart and wonderful shepherds!! Julie in Wisconsin

Margaret said...

Check this out!

From the NYTIMES :