FAIRMONT - "As you can tell, they really did quite well," Fairmont Police Chief Greg Brolsma said as he showed off the many trophies and awards won last week by Officer Chad Sanow and his canine colleague Jango.
The U.S. Police Canine Association National Patrol Dog Field Trial ran from Sept. 18-23 in Detroit Lakes, where 84 dogs and their handlers came from throughout the country to compete.
The Fairmont pair took first place in the article and box searches, with Jango locating a hidden article within 32 seconds and then finding a person hiding in a box in 34 seconds. Jango also received third place for agility.
Fairmont police officer Chad Sanow trains with Jango on this week at the Fairmont Municipal Airport. The two received several awards last week at the U.S. Police Canine Association National Patrol Dog Field Trial.
"They brought home a lot of hardware," Brolsma said, but noted, more important than the trophies is what they represent. " ... The search has real-world applicability."
Just in the last couple of months, Jango has had a couple of opportunities to use his search and apprehension skills in the local community. Brolsma described two recent scenarios, one in which the dog was sent after a suspect with a violent history, who reportedly had threatened people with a knife and was hiding in a residential area. In the second incident, Jango tracked down several felons who were fleeing on foot east of the Holiday Inn through dense brush.
"It was amazing to see the dog track," Brolsma said. "... And he found them a mile and a half east of town on a farmplace."
Like many canines, Jango has amazing natural abilities, but his skills are honed through serious training. Sanow has put in many hours - many volunteered - teaching the dog what it needs to know to keep the community safe.
When called in to do a job, "Nothing will stop this dog," Sanow said. "He doesn't know what he's getting himself into ... This dog would give up his life to save an officer or a citizen."
The pair have been called to assist in Mankato, Blue Earth, Jackson and Watonwan counties: "We go wherever we're needed," Sanow said.
Without his wife and children, Sanow said he would not be able to do the work he does with Jango.
"They're out helping me train every day," he said.
Others have helped too, from city workers who maintain an area for Sanow to train Jango at a local park, to folks at the airport who keep an eye on his training gear, to officers in Austin who sometimes train with Sanow with their police dogs.
At the canine field trial, Sanow was asked to join the group from Austin in a competition, since one of their own couldn't make it, and together the team took first place.
Sanow received an individual honor as well, earning the award of valor for the night in October 2010, when he was shot in the chest by a gunman who later killed himself. He was chosen for the honor, Sanow said, because he got back to his feet, protected a civilian from harm and made it on his own to the ambulance.
Again, the officer thanked his family for their support: "They've allowed me to come back 100 percent," he said.