Thursday, March 12, 2015

15 'Aspins' on rigid training as tracking dogs

BALER, Aurora - Fifteen “Aspins” short for Asong Pinoy or stray dog, sometimes known as “Askal” or Asong Kalye in this capital town of Aurora are now undergoing rigid training to become working dogs, according to top military official.

Lt. Col. Joey A. Escanillas, battalion commander of 56th Infantry “Tatag” Battalion, Philippine Army, said the military is now on their way in giving the best training to their local dogs to become productive professional dogs working in many scent-related jobs, from tracking to search and rescue if possible.

“These dogs will be honed by their combat tracking skills and long exposure to military activities,” Escanillas said, adding that the “askal/aspin” are being trained by their army handlers for tracking and finding lost humans or other animals, as well as demonstrating the extremely high level of scent capability that dogs possess.

“Six to eight months old of our dogs are on their way in training to further demonstrate their natural abilities and to recognize and follow human scent. Tracking has always been an essential skill for dogs to survive in the wild, through hunting and tracking down potential prey,” he said.

Escanillas said that through the training of dogs, the soldiers will become passionate for the love and care of their own pets and develop their own tactics to work together in the military activities.

The dogs are distributed to the individual soldiers serving as the pet’s handlers and will generally give the proper trainings.

Patience is the most important part of the training, to tolerate waiting, delay, or frustration without becoming agitated or upset, to be able to control emotions or impulses and proceed calmly when faced with difficulties with dogs.

“Knowing the different kinds of breeds may help in some way but recognizing the exact breed of dog is not really important. No matter what size or type of dog the individual owns or utilized in military operation, it is necessary to give the dog plenty of clear rules and leadership in its daily life,” he explained.

Aside from the "aspins/askals,", Escanillas admitted they have well-trained imported “Labrador Retriever” and “Belgian Malinois” that also work in the battalion as explosive detector dogs.

The tasks are tracking down alive/dead individuals, recovering evidence from a crime scene and finding explosives.

Escanillas has been assigned at the Philippine Army (PA) supervising the training of canines (K9s) for two years and three months as commanding officer of the K9 Battalion before his post as the battalion commander of the 56th Infantry “Tatag” Battalion, Philippine Army covering the provinces of Aurora and Quirino, the towns of Bongabon in Nueva Ecija and Dinapigue in Isabela and portions of Alfonso Castaneda in Nueva Vizcaya.

The 56th IB’s area of responsibility is an ardous task in which the areas represent varied cultures and geographical make-up covering 17 municipalities composed of 320 barangays and inhabited by almost half a million people – 450,274 to be exact. (Jason de Asis, Philippines News Agency)

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