Two Bismarck Police Department K-9 teams were chosen from more than 700 applicants to compete in a national television competition.
Photos courtesy: Bismarck Police Department
Mesa and Bala and their handlers Joseph Benke and Dan Salander were flow out to California to take part in the filming of new show on A&E called America's Top Dog.
A small town running with the big dogs
"When I filmed I had guys from New Jersey, Florida, California. They were really from all over the place," said Benke.
Once labeled as underdogs, the Bismarck Police K-9s used previous training to size up to the competition.
"We were able to show the hard work that we put in thorough training, and put that on display for everyone to see," said Salander.
Mesa and Bala have competed in a variety of other competitions, however, none were like the one displayed on national television.
"Obstacles that are on the show and that everyone will see are things that we don’t train on, it was all brand new. So that was going to be a challenge. There was no way to prepare for these specific events, we have to rely on our daily training,” said Salander.
The days of filming were long.
"For three days we were on set for up to 15 hours," said Salander.
But rewarding for those competing.
"For me we did really well down there and we had a great time. So it'll be interesting to see how we do against the other competitors throughout the whole season," said Salander.
Although there are more competitions in the future, the handlers are grateful for their chance to participate in a national competition.
"Who knows if I’ll ever get another experience like that, I’m glad we went," said Benke.
A once in a lifetime opportunity for Mesa and Bala to prove they are the top dog.
Although the handlers couldn't give the place they took in the competition, they said they're excited for North Dakota to see well their dogs performed.
The show featuring these two teams will air sometime in January.