SALT LAKE CITY -- Her name is Idole Loups Du Soleil, but everyone calls her "Idol.”
Idol is a Belgian Malinois and is also considered to be one of the best "bite dogs" in the world.
Idol and her handler are both from Utah, and they compete in a sport called Mondioring. Idol is one of five dogs representing the United States in the upcoming world championships in France.
Idol is about 3.5 years old, and she and her trainer, David Broderick, have been working together two to three times a week for a half hour or an hour since Idol was eight weeks old.
Broderick has trained dogs since he was 12, so teaching her to "sit" and "stay" was getting old.
"I kind of got bored training just pet obedience and different things, so I wanted something more than that and this is a lot more than that," he said.
Mondioring is a protection sport that combines three skills: obedience, agility and bite work.
It was originally set up as a breed survey test—to determine whether the dog is good enough to be bred or not. The good ones are often scooped up by law enforcement agencies.
“They don't really have a breeding program for police dogs, and so the sport that I do kind of makes it so they can get their police K9s and get good dogs, if there wasn't sport dogs, there really couldn't be police K9s,” Broderick said.
Mondioring is a hard sport to compete in. The Belgian Malinois breed has dominated the sport since its inception. The sport also takes a lot of time and money—and there is no prize money for winning competitions.
The hardest part can be finding a decoy to train with.
"You have to have a decoy that's willing to get in the suit and knows what they're doing to train the dog,” Broderick said.
Enter Gary Cassera, who is a professional decoy from Pennsylvania willing to wear a bite suit.
Broderick brings him to Utah once a month to train with Idol.
"It looks very padded, but Idol's a good biter, so I’ll feel a little bit,” Cassera said.
Handlers give voice commands and also use a small bicycle horn.
Cassera said the only thing he can think of that would be like his job is swimming away from a shark.
Idol really doesn't like it when the decoy "hits" Broderick, as the video above shows.
In one test, Broderick goes behind a blind, leaving Idol to make her own decisions. She’s been trained not to bite the decoy unless he comes closer than two meters.
Idol also competes in obedience and agility tests. At the highest level of the sport, few will compete with a female dog, as they’re said to be more sensitive and might not be as aggressive as a male.
"When she was growing up, I had a lot of people that told me she wouldn't get a level three and that she also would never be a dog that I could compete with at nationals and worlds,” Broderick said.
All the same, Idol is headed to the Worlds--where the 50 best biters will take part in the four-day trial.
If Idol wins, she'll get a trophy. There’s no prize money involved, but Broderick said making it to the world championships of Mondioring will pay off down the road when he has Idol bred.
Her pups could be taking a bite out of crime for years to come.