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Canine competes; walks away a winner

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By Susan Sharp

Summer vacation can be spent in a variety of different ways. Some people opt for a beachside resort while others have the increasingly popular staycation.

However, Darrell Mongar didn’t do either of those.

Instead, Mongar, a sheriff’s deputy, and his former partner, Rooke, took part in the United States Police Canine Association (U.S.P.C.A.), Region Eight competition in Loudon.

After competing in a myriad of events Mongar and his Dutch Shepard dog took 10th overall in the competition.

“This is the most difficult police certification in the United States," said Bob Swayze, a Clinton police officer who oversaw the competition. “Only the very best participate.”

This year 20 dogs competed in the six-phase event where the dogs are off their leashes at all times. “It’s almost like an Olympic athlete competing,” Swayze said.

As the competition starts, an elimination round is held immediately. Any dog who can’t obey the nonverbal commands is eliminated.

But that round was not a problem for Mongar and Rooke.

The duo easily advanced to the next phase.

For Rooke, who was recently retired after eight years of service, the contest was just what he needed.

“I took him for his benefit and it pepped him up,” Mongar said.

Taking part in the various categories, Rooke impressed the judges.

His overall score was a 578, according to Swayze. “He excelled excellence,” Swayze said of Rooke.

With Rooke’s score and 10th place finish he is now qualified to compete in the national USPCA contest.

But while he was in Loudon, he left an impression on the judges.

“He (Rooke) did outstanding in all his events,” Swayze said. “The county should be extremely proud of that team (Rooke and Mongar).”

Swayze also praised Rooke for his tracking abilities calling him one of the top three trackers in the eastern part of the state.

But, Rooke was not the only one who walked away a winner.

Mongar was given the Good Sportsmanship Award by the judges.

Swayze said this is an honor determined by the judges and given to the officer who shows professionalism, courtesy, and commitment.

“Darrell is the epitome of what every department should look for in an officer,” Swayze said.