(Washington, D.C. – January 11, 2013) They hail from Europe, and respond to commands in their native tongue; they are members of every branch of the military, the Secret Service and law enforcement agencies worldwide; they have helped take down some of the most infamous terrorists in history; and they are suckers for a tennis ball. They are the K-9s of Vohne Liche Kennels (VLK), one of the premiere K-9 training facilities in the world, and together with the team that trains them they are an integral part of the war on terror.
Beginning Friday, Feb. 8, at 9 & 9:30 p.m. ET (and airing weekly Fridays at 9 & 9:30 p.m. ET), Nat Geo WILD’s cameras go behind the scenes with exclusive access to VLK’s elite trainers at their headquarters in rural Indiana, as they work around the clock to train these Alpha Dogs in the art of detection and assault. They do it all with one goal: serving our country.
The training approach is intense: Any mistakes the dogs make—missing a bomb, letting an enemy escape or not detecting weapons—could cost lives. Join the VLK team as they teach handlers and dogs to leap from helicopters, rappel down buildings, search buildings and cars for explosives and drugs, and chase down human targets. The dogs can even be trained to find illicit cell phones in prison cells and money being brought through airports as part of laundering schemes. Training these K-9/human tandems in real-world situations, like staying focused on a bad guy while live gunfire is occurring around them, is critical. The VLK team will go to whatever lengths necessary, be it live explosives or real drugs, to make sure no dog or handler graduates from their program unprepared.
Though the trainers at VLK may look like a biker gang, and sometimes may act like one, they have extensive experience serving on the front lines in military and law enforcement agencies, and many carry top secret clearance. Led by owner and founder Kenny Licklider, a retired senior master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, each member of the team is an alpha male in his own right:
- Danny, head of police training, is the toughest guy with a mullet that you’ve ever met.
- Bobby, head of military operations, is cool under pressure, and has never seen a deadline he can’t meet.
- Luther, lead instructor for the kennel’s Tactical Explosive Detector Dog (T.E.D.D.) program, is the team’s most outgoing personality.
- K.C. isn’t just the boss’s son but also one of the best up-and-coming trainers at the facility.
“The K-9s you’ll meet in Alpha Dogs are serious animals, a perfect combination of muscle and smarts, trained at the highest level,” says executive producer Jack Osbourne. “If you met Kenny and team on the street, you’d never expect that this group of beer-drinking, motorcycle-driving, tattoo-covered guys from small-town Indiana would be some of the world’s finest law enforcement trainers. From the moment I met them and saw their operation, they blew me away.”
Fellow executive producer Rob Worsoff adds, “I think people are going to love this show. It has everything: awesome characters, funny moments, awesome dogs, explosions, tears and tons of tension. It’s an action-packed show.”
Premiere episodes include:
Alpha Dogs: Life and Death
Premieres Friday, February 8, 2013, at 9 PM ET
Meet Kenny, Danny, Bobby, Luther and K.C. — owner and staff at Vohne Liche Kennels (VLK), one of the most elite K-9 dog training facilities in the world. Together they train not just the dogs sent to the field to detect drugs, weapons and bombs and attack aggressors, but also the handlers who will work with them on a daily basis. In the premiere episode, it’s almost graduation for a team from Special Ops forces, and Kenny and Bobby are worried when one trainee struggles with controlling his dog. Any delay in their graduation costs the kennel money, but they can’t risk graduating a dog or human without being fully confident in their skills to transition between taking down an enemy and finding the bomb. Later, Kenny joins Danny, Luther and his son K.C. as they travel to a training seminar commemorating a fallen officer and former VLK student. Together they take the officers through exercises similar to what their fallen colleague encountered the night he was killed, including a rappelling challenge that causes one VLK trainer to confront his fears and sends another to a hospital.
Alpha Dogs: Bite Me
Premieres Friday, February 8, at 9:30 PM ET
The team at VLK has been working hard, and Kenny wants to take them “turtling” over the weekend as a reward; but they have a lot of work to get done before they can go. First, Danny and Kenny visit the police department in Terre Haute, Ind., to test a group of dogs’ reactions to live gunfire. One of the animals becomes anxious, and when his handler tries to subdue him incorrectly, he winds up with a vicious bite. The guys have to take the dog back to the kennel to determine if the dog has issues, or if the real issue was poor handling. Meanwhile, Luther has four dogs who he must teach to detect explosive odors in only a few short days before a new Tactical Explosive Detector Dog (T.E.D.D.) class. If he can’t get the job done they’ll have to work through the weekend, which means no turtling. The pressure is on!
Alpha Dogs: Rodney & Bullwinkle
Premieres Friday, February 15, at 9 PM ET
A new client, Rodney, arrives from Afghanistan looking for a new cadaver dog, which can be used to find mass burial sites and body parts. Rodney is used to using strapping Belgian Malinois, but Bobby and Luther are convinced the right dog for the job is a cocker spaniel named Bullwinkle. Rodney is skeptical, even after Bullwinkle shines in the indoor test, detecting the odor of body decomposition in a target box, and again outdoors finding a PVC pipe with real human remains. To really sell Rodney, they’ll have to test the dog to find an intact human foot they’ve buried — which will also test their squeamish stomachs. Over in Logansport, Ind., Kenny and Danny have been invited to participate in the police department’s drug interdiction detail, where they’ll attempt to catch cars using a side road to avoid a drug checkpoint, and then bring in dogs to search for drugs. Kenny and Danny are excited to be out on the streets, and hoping their dogs can make the grade..
Alpha Dogs: Blow Up
Premieres Friday, February 15, 2013, at 9:30 PM ET
VLK is welcoming a new group of T.E.D.D. handlers who need pairing up with dogs. This program trains K-9s to detect improvised explosive devices and trains the handlers to use the animals’ skills to save the lives of their fellow soldiers. Once Kenny and Luther have made the pairings, they set the duos to work in a bomb-sniffing exercise that features live gunfire and explosions. One of the dogs, who, like the rest in this class, has already served time in Afghanistan or Iraq, shows signs of resistance at the first sound of explosions, and it’s up to the guys from VLK to determine if she is capable of seeing combat again. Danny is dealing with a different kind of personnel problem: K.C., the boss’s son, is perpetually showing up late and missing work. His young age and lack of real-life experience make it difficult for him to earn the respect he thinks he deserves: not only from overzealous trainees but also from his own dad.
Alpha Dogs: Busted
Premieres Friday, February 22, 2013, at 9 PM ET
Kenny has high hopes to become the exclusive dog provider for K9s4Cops, a charitable organization that buys police dogs for departments across the country that can’t afford them. The leaders of the charity visit VLK with an officer who is to receive a K-9 from the charity, but after he makes his selection, Bobby and Kenny are shocked to learn the dog needs to be comfortable working in and around water. If these two can’t get the dog up to speed, it could affect the relationship with K9s4Cops and cost the kennel thousands of dollars in new business. In nearby Kokomo, Ind., Kenny and Danny work with a group of police officers to build their dog’s confidence in taking out a bad guy. One handler shines bright, so Kenny and Danny invite him along on a real drug bust to give him a taste for real-world detection. Will he falter in the face of adversity, or continue to show potential?
Alpha Dogs is produced for Nat Geo WILD by Schweet Entertainment, LLC. For Schweet Entertainment, LLC, executive producers are Jack Osbourne and Rob Worsoff. For Nat Geo WILD, executive producers are J-T Ladt and Ashley Hoppin, senior vice president of development and production is Janet Han Vissering, and executive vice president and general manager is Geoff Daniels.
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For more than 30 years, National Geographic has been the leader in wildlife programming. The networks Nat Geo WILD and Nat Geo WILD HD, launched in 2010, offer intimate encounters with nature’s ferocious fighters and gentle creatures of land, sea and air that draw upon the cutting-edge work of the many explorers, filmmakers and scientists of the National Geographic Society. Part of the National Geographic Channels US, based in Washington, D.C., the networks are a joint venture between National Geographic and Fox Cable Networks. In 2001, National Geographic Channel (NGC) debuted, and 10 years later, Spanish-language network Nat Geo Mundo was unveiled. The Channels have carriage with all of the nation’s major cable, telco and satellite television providers, with Nat Geo WILD currently available in 56 million U.S. homes. Globally, Nat Geo WILD is available in more than 100 million homes in 90 countries and 28 languages. For more information, visit NatGeoWild.