Arnold AFB had a top dog in this race

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As the Olympics in Bejing recently grabbed headlines around the world, athletes of a different breed were vying for top honors back in the U.S.

Astrid, an eight-year-old Belgian Malinois, and her human handler, Jason Layne, took second place in two categories at the Police K-9 Olympics, conducted annually at Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Ind.

Layne, the Aerospace Test¬ing Alliance's K-9 Unit officer for the U.S. Air Force's Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC), and Astrid, an explosive detection dog, had been training intensively for the event. It was the first time Arnold has been represented at the K-9 Olympics.

"We had to train every day, and I mean every day - week¬ends and after work during the week," said the Grundy County native. "It takes a lot of hard work and dedication, especially when you consider the competition - among others; it included teams representing the National Security Agency and the Pentagon."

Rick Trull, AEDC's chief of police said the competition showcased Layne and Astrid's skills and also served another, more practical purpose.

"This was really a value for the Air Force as well because Ja¬son was able to participate in the competition and received credit for his annual recertification," he said.

"It turned out to be a very significant cost savings for us and the Air Force. That the team placed so highly in our first attempt at the competition made it even better."

More than 200 K-9 teams from all over the world com¬peted, including Department of Defense Special Forces, State of Texas, Border Patrol, Honolulu Public Safety, Secret Service and IPC Security Agency, ac¬cording to Don Miller, op¬erations officer for the AEDC Police Department.

"Jason and Astrid placed in almost every category, and brought home second place award in Explosive Team Over¬all and second place in Residen¬tial Explosives," he said.

Layne came to AEDC three years ago with prior canine handling experience gained while serving with the Sheriff's Department in Grundy County, Tenn.

"I got my current (K-9) cer¬tification from the Vohne Liche Kennels in Denver, Ind.," he explained. "I have to attend in-service refresher training every year - so many hours and meet some pretty tough standards.

You and your dog have to work as one and you have to know your dog's every move - that is one of the main things. It requires focus and an intuitive sense, a special relationship - because she's reading you and you have to read her. As a K-9 handler, I have to meet certain stringent Air Force and state of Tennessee standards. I also have a certification and a yearly qualification I maintain to work with the Tennessee Highway Patrol - a mutual aid agreement with them."

Vohne Liche Kennels trains approximately 400 dogs and 150 handlers from 46 states and 20 countries every year. The company conducts training in tracking, apprehension and detection work as well as first aid, search and seizure and use of force procedures. Vohne Liche K-9 Securities deploys teams to Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas in support of Explosive Detector Dog missions worldwide.