BISMARCK, ND -- A Roseau native and St. Cloud State University graduate will soon make an appearance on television screens across the country.

Officer Joey Benke and his K-9 Mesa will be featured on an upcoming episode of A&E’s “America’s Top Dog” competition.

Benke graduated from St. Cloud State in 2012 with a degree in criminal justice and now works for the Bismarck Police Department. He says they were selected out of between 700 and 800 applicants.

My sergeant in our K-9 program was kind of looking through different things. We do an iron dog challenge each summer for our K-9 seminar and he was actually looking for ideas online for different things we could do for that. He came across this America's Top Dog thing and ended up emailing one of the producers or something like that, and that's how we ended up getting interviews.

The television show pits K-9s and their officers against civilian dogs and their handlers in a series of different obstacle courses and tests. Benke has had Mesa, a Belgian Malinois and German Shepherd mix, for almost three years, and says despite receiving blueprints of the courses to practice, obedience training provided the best preparation for his team.

A lot of it was stuff that we had never really done before so I was kind of not sure how it was going to go. I mean like the obedience and all that stuff was definitely key in how we were running through the course and everything because everything is off-leash.

The elimination competition ends every episode with a winning team who moves to the finals for their chance to be the top dog.

Benke's fellow Bismarck team of Officer Dan Salander and K-9 Bala also had a chance to compete on the show.

Although he is unsure which episode they will make their appearance in, Benke knows he and Mesa will be in the second half of the season, meaning their air date will fall between February 19th and March 11th.

You can catch the show live on A&E every Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. or catch-up by streaming the episodes online at https://www.aetv.com/shows/americas-top-dog.

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