LUDLOW, Mass. (WWLP) – K-9 teams from across New England gathered in western Massachusetts this weekend for the United States Police Canine Association Region Four Field Trials. Competing in a police dog competition is ruff stuff, but these candidates were up for the challenge.

The Hampden County Sheriff’s office hosted this year’s USPCA competition at the Ludlow Boys & Girls Club on an early June weekend. The two-day event tested K-9 obedience, agility, evidence recovery, suspect search, and criminal apprehension.

Thomas Cowell of the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department told 22News, “It’s just a great event, people from the community can come out and check it out and see what we’re all about. The training that goes into it. It just doesn’t stop when you’re off the clock.”

That’s something Essex County Deputy Sheriff Justin Boleski can attest to. His police dog “Blue” has been serving with him for five years and it’s a role he says is vital within law enforcement. “They’re a great locating tool and that’s their main purpose is being a locating tool. So we have dogs that are certified in bomb materials, he’s certified in narcotics. And they’re just a great asset to law enforcement.”

According to the National Police Dog Association, the key attributes of a successful police dog are intelligence, aggression, strength, and sense of smell. Characteristics that would certainly be used to describe these dogs.

“They’re fast, they’re strong, they’re intimidating. They just help keep the community safe!,” expressed Retired Correctional Officer for the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department, Teddy Vivenzio.