The intelligence and good listening skills of the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office K-9s kicked in Thursday morning as handlers ran the dogs through a brand new obstacle course.

The dogs got most obstacles correct on the first try. Most of the dogs had never done the course before Thursday, said Sgt. Dawn Jauernik with the sheriff’s office.

Before the official show began, Jauernik and a couple of guys from her team went out to show Bonito, Blek, and Carma the course and let them get a feel for it. Thursday wasn’t about performance, though; Jauernik said it was about the makers of the obstacles seeing their hard work in action.

Two local high schools, Dixon and Southwest, worked with their construction trade teachers using wood materials donated and purchased by the sheriff’s office from Lowes Home Improvement to create obstacles for the dogs to jump over, crawl up, and crawl under, Jauernik said.

“This is a win-win situation,” Onslow County Sheriff Hans Miller said.

The students in the construction classes were able to learn and practice woodworking to create pieces that would be used for training, Miller said, and the sheriff’s office gained a new course to help train the dogs.

Lavon Vance, 15, of Southwest High School said he’d never done any work like this before.

“It was pretty rough in the beginning,” Vance admitted.

Austin Padgett, 16, also of Southwest agreed, but both said once they had the photos from the sheriff’s office showing what they had in mind and the dimensions for each piece were figured out, it was easier.

Both teens were excited to see the dogs in action.

It was a lot of “hup” and “jump” commands from the handlers followed by treats, toys, “good job,” and a lot of petting when each of the three dogs finished the course with flying colors.

Jauernik said her boy, Bonito, has just a tad of crazy in him thanks to his Belgian Malinois breed. A bundle of energy, Bonito leaped over most of the hurdles without touching them.

Bonito likes to play hard, but he works hard, too, according to Jauernik.

“When it’s work time, I wouldn’t want any other dog with me,” she said.

If other agencies or organizations within Onslow County need something made, Southwest’s construction trade teacher Tommy Tucker said to give the school a call. The schools can be reached at 910-455-4888 for Southwest and 910-347-2958 for Dixon.

“We could help them out and save them a lot of money,” he said.