Derick Spargo and Pike make a good team – built on trust.

When Spargo, the City of Amarillo Assistant Facilities Manager, is not helping manage the wide array of city facilities under his department, he can be found training with his dog, Pike, a 4-year-old Belgian Malinois. 

Spargo and Pike are competitors in a sport built on trust and the relationship between a human and an animal. And the duo are doing quite well – with the hardware to prove it. 

The duo compete in the Protection Sports Association (PSA), an international organization providing an outlet for civilian competition in canine obedience and controlled protection. Their local club, affiliated with PSA, is Panhandle Workingdogs. 

“I have always been interested in training dogs, and I enjoy competition,” said Spargo, who was a baseball player at Wayland Baptist University.

The PSA describes the competition as follows: “In each successive level the dog-handler team is asked to negotiate obedience and protection routines that are increasingly complex, difficult in terms of pressure from both decoys and environmental distractions, and as well the handlers must strategize how to work through scenarios involving risk-reward tradeoffs.”

And the competition is built on trust.

“You do have to have trust in your dog – you and the dog are out there in the trial field together,” Spargo said. “You rely on your training that you do with your dog. You rely on the trust that you have built with the dog on a daily basis to hold through the trial.”

Spargo and Pike qualified for the 2021 PSA Nationals, held this past November in North Carolina. However, they were unable to attend. Competition begins again next year, and the duo plan on attending trials in Dallas and/or San Antonio, in addition to a local trial next fall.

Spargo has been participating in the sport for six years.  Thanks to family living abroad, Pike joined the Spargo family from Belgium. 

“I am proud of my dog and proud of my sport,” Spargo said. “You have to have people who back you and support you to do this sport. I could not do any of this without the help of my local club.  My club is outstanding, and I cannot thank them enough for all the support and time they put in to not only help me but each and every Panhandle Workingdogs member.”