SSD stands for Specialized Search Dog, and Garrett Peterson, a 2009 graduate from Mount Ayr high school, currently
serves as a military working dog handler.
He handles a specialized search dog named Jackson, a black lab. Jackson's
mission is to find all military-grade explosives and HMEs (homemade explosives.)
Jackson can work on and off leash. Off
leash, Peterson can control his dog while searching up to 150 meters away. They can search roadways, open areas, buildings
and vehicles as well as any danger areas and choke points. It's the dog's job to be in front of patrols searching
safe routes of travel. Peterson said Jackson isn't trained to bite personnel because of his off leash ability.
is not Peterson's first dog, however. He had a German shepherd named Denny, but when he took Denny to Yuma, AZ to do his
final test to see if he felt comfortable with him in real-life situations, he did not feel that Denny was ready for the
field. Denny was then taken back for more training, and Jackson was assigned to Peterson.
"I really wanted K-9 because
it's one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs," said Peterson. "That's me in a nutshell pretty much."
Peterson enlisted in
the Marines in January 2011 and has been stationed in many places across the United States ever since. He was assigned to
Pendleton in November 2011 and moved to Bridgeport, CA for three months in January 2012 as a basic MP (Military Police).
He interviewed for K-9 duty in June 2012 and went to Lackland Air Force base in Texas for basic handler course in
August 2012. From there he went through an SSD handler course in Pendleton January 2013 and on to the Yuma, AZ proving
grounds for the inter-service advanced K-9 course June 2013 with Denny.
Peterson is the son of Tenise Klommhaus and
Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, December of 2013