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Regional K-9 team returns from national competition with a lot of trophies

The regional team that was sent to Maryland to compete includes Ty Jacobson, Washington County, Minn.,Mike Drees, Rochester, Minn., alternate Rob Buth, St. Paul PD, Josh Stenseth, St. Croix County and Brady Harrison, St. Paul PD. The team took third place in overall competition with a score of 2,563.34. (Submitted photos)1 / 5
St. Croix County police dog Dex sits in front of the U. S. Capitol.2 / 5
St. Croix County Sgt. Joshua Stenseth and his dog Dex took first place last week while in Maryland for the United States Police Canine Association trials.3 / 5
Sheriff's Deputy Justin Johnson and his dog Cash are part of St. Croix County's K-9 team.4 / 5
St. Croix County Deputy Tyler L’Allier has been employed with the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office since 2006. He became a K9 handler in March 2013, with his K-9 partner, Braun, a German Shepherd from Europe.5 / 5

It was an honor for St. Croix County Sgt. Josh Stenseth to be asked to compete on a regional team with four others, including two from the St. Paul Police Department, one from the Rochester, Minn., PD and one from the Washington County Sheriff’s department.

Stenseth and his dog Dex, headed out to the Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., on Sept. 27. Fellow K-9 handler St. Croix County Deputy Tyler L’Allier and his dog Braun, who would act as decoys for Stenseth in competition, flew out on Sept. 30 along with Chief Deputy Scott Knudson.

The event was the United States Police Canine Association’s 2013 National Patrol Dog Field Trials.

Stenseth has been a K-9 handler for seven years, currently assigned to the patrol unit as a sergeant, certified detector and patrol dog trainer and the current Region 18 president for the United States Police Canine Association.

His current police service dog is K-9 Dex, who is a four year-old Belgian Malinois. K-9 Dex is a certified patrol and detector dog through the U.S. Police Canine Association. He is trained in narcotics detection, tracking, agility, obedience, article detection, search work and criminal apprehension.

According to Stenseth, the dogs are certified once a year at a regional level, the K-9’s teams must certify or they don’t work. K-9s are used in Polk and Pierce counties, Minnesota agencies and all of the St. Croix County agencies. They must certify at the regional level and with a much higher score to be eligible to go to the national field trials which are held once a year and a selected regional area.

This year they went out to Clinton, Md., which is about 15 miles from Washington, D.C., for the national field trial held by the U.S. Police Canine Association. The K-9 Nationals were held from Sept. 28-Oct. 4.

Stenseth and Dex went out as a regional team which consisted of multiple agencies from Washington County, Rochester PD, and St. Paul PD. They ranked third as a regional team out of 79 other teams.

“K-9 Dex and I took first place in all of the criminal apprehension work including gun fire out of all the national teams that attended,” said Stenseth. “We scored a 337.66 out of a total of 340. This phase shows a great level of discipline with overall control of the dogs. This phase includes a verbal recall back to me off a running decoy, to stay in a down position when the decoy is running away and to be able to verbally call off the dog from a bite and into a down position while we search the decoy. This demonstrates a great level of overall control with the dog.”

“The apprehension work is the bread and butter of the competition,” said Stenseth.

“As far as Josh Stenseth and Dex go, the agency is extremely pleased with their performance,” said Chief Deputy Scott Knudson. “Josh represented himself, the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office, and the citizens of our county very well, and we’re proud of him. His top notch performance was merely an extension of the work we see him do every day.”

Teams that attended were from Illinois, Ohio, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, Washington, Virginia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York and Pennsylvania.

“I’m glad St. Paul asked me to join the team,” said Stenseth, who took some time to see part of Washington D.C. He has announced that at the end of Dex career, he will give up being a K9 handler. “Hopefully that will be several years down the road yet.”

For any K-9 public demonstrations, contact Sgt. Stenseth at (715) 381-4320.