The Road to the Super Bowl
Ann Sabino – 03/21/2009
The following article is about Aretha (7A405, Amanda X Merwin), a Guiding Eyes for the Blind dog that was raised by Sarah Flood and Jeanne Dregalla in the Ohio region.
The National Football League’s coveted championship game begins long before the televised coin toss and highly anticipated kickoff. The journey begins each fall as the organization’s thirty-two teams work to assemble the country’s finest football players in hopes of a trip to the promised land- the Super Bowl. Grueling training camps hone skills and individual players emerge as true teammates, ready to tackle sixteen fierce competitors on their way to the championship title.
Likewise, Super Bowl security begins well in advance of spectator arrival. The championship game, designated as a National Special Security Event by the United States Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security, receives infrastructure protection and counterterrorism security from twenty of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ (ATF) finest Explosive Detection Canine Teams. ATF recruits Labrador retrievers- recognized for their energy, heartiness, intelligence, work ethic, and non-aggressive dispositions- from quality programs that raise the breed for working purposes. Preliminary training begins at ATF’s Canine Enforcement Training Center in Front Royal, Virginia and is followed by a ten week detection course. Young pups, like Guiding Eyes for the Blind’s locally raised Aretha, live and work with ATF handlers and begin meaningful careers in which they detect explosives (19,000 varieties), improvised explosive devices, post blast residue, firearms, ammunition, and spent shell casings with an amazing one hundred percent accuracy. Certified ATF Handler/Canine Teams work diligently to ensure public security through local, state, federal, and international law enforcement agencies.
The road to excellence is long and narrowly travelled. Teams that arrive at our nation’s Super Bowl do so strategically through skill refinement, perseverance, and a genuine desire to perform. Americans can rest easy on game day knowing ‘special teams’ have everything covered both on and off the playing field!