The barracks “Croatia“ in Zagreb on 24 August 2016 hosted the formal ceremony marking the…
First female military working dogs handler
In early April 2018 2nd Lt. Martina Radnić – the Commander of the Military Working Dogs Selection, Breeding and Pre-training Company became the first female officer to complete the Military Working Dog Handlers Course, and is presently training the Alsatian Asta and leading its cub Kenny through the initial training. The Croatian contingents to international missions oftern comprise military working dogs, who perform a number of important tasks such as explosives search or securing the Contingent deployment area and who previously undergo training in the Military Working Dog Handler Course in the Barracks “Satnik Krešimir Ivošević” of the Military Police Regiment in Dugo Selo.
The “Hrvatski vojnik“ team visited the future working dogs in Dugo Selo. On arriving we heard the loud words „“No cheating“ You are lying as a dog“, but uttered laughing, as the training dog tried to bypass the seesaw instead of climbing on it. We met 2nd Lt. Martina Radnić – the name to be remembered in the Military Working Dog Training Company as she is the first female graduate of the Working DOg Training Course, of which she is fairly proud. To be first to do something is a great honour; all the more so as the path to the qualification was long. The choice of the career for 2nd Lt Radnić was partly determined by her father serving in the military, and partly by her love for the animals. “I have had pets all my life. I have a German boxer named Roma at home and I also do horse riding. My motive for joining the Croatian Armed Forces was to work here“. Each member of Company cares for two or three dogs. 2nd Lieutenant Radnić has handled three Ella, Asta and Kenny.
Ella the Belgian Malinois was 2nd Lt. Radnić’s first dog, between them was a “love at first sight“. Ella is now 11 and is retired. Asta the Alsatian is still in service, and recently completed the Working Dog Handler Course led by 2nd Lt. Radnić; they made a team ever since Asta was born. Each time Martina would walk into the litter box Asta would respond to the sound of her steps and cheered. IHer choice of the working dog was made.
Seven months ago Asta had a litter. Kenny was among the cubs; when I stepped into the litter box he came to me, sat on the top of my boots, moved his head up and took a look at me. I knew then – Kenny was mine, I would work with him“. 2nd Lt. Radnić is working on demanding tasks with Asta and is taking Kenny – the future star of the demonstration drills and kinologic shows – through the initial training. He is on the right track already –having won the fourth place in the special exhibition of Alsatian dogs in Bjelovar in February. Every now and then the dogs undergo socialisation in their handler’s home, and spend time with her boxer Roma and get accustomed to the presence of new dogs. Many shoes, cloths and sponges in 2nd Lt Radnić’s home were destroyed by the dogs putting on teeth, but she doesn’t mind. She likes them so much that nothing else compares with taking care of dogs. Getting the dream job took a lot of effort. She had to take a two-month training (315 hours) with grown-up dogs and cubs; previous experience with her own dogs was very helpful. “I am good at reading dogs’ “body talk“; when I see that the dog doesn’t feel well, we spare him of the training for the day; our training is special, as it involves a lot of playing, love and rewards“.
The peak of the training was the exam. 2nd Lieutenant Radnić had to take a written exam in veterinary medicine and kinology, and three hands-on drills with grown up dogs and cubs respecively. The first two drills with the grown up dogs involved obedience and the third one the mastery of the identity checks of suspicious persons. The drills with the cubs involved obedience and motivation, as well as a “hide and seek“ game. The training is intensive but abounds in merry moments; it is a must for the working dog handler. Ever since it ended 2nd Lt. Radnić has been constantly busy. In her quality as the Commander of the Selection, Breeding and Pre-training Platoon of the Company her working days begin with briefings and the daily schedule planning, followed by box cleaning and dog bathing; the weekly schedule features various training elements, and each day a new thing is in focus – obedience, drills for prey drive etc. Asta and Kenny still have to take long hours of training with their handler to build up skills; She will probably find them a home afterwards. While she is reluctant to talk about her future professional development, 2nd Lt. Radnić stresses that she will gladly take any assignment with her dog. The enhousiastic smile on 2nd Lt. Radnić’s face as seen during the training with Kenny will remain her important feature whateverher future career may be, and it shows that she has got a job of her dreams.