Alpharetta, Georgia, K-9 Mattis, and his handler, Sgt. Mark Tappan, will be featured on A&E’s new competition show “America’s Top Dog,” the department said on Facebook this week.
The city of Alpharetta said Mattis, who was injured in 2016 after bounding over a 30-foot retention wall while running down a suspect, is 6 years old.
Tappan has been with the department since July 5, 2006. He is now the leader of the department's K-9 team, making him a good fit for the show.
“Think of American Ninja Warrior for a dog/handler,” the agency wrote.
On its website, A&E said the one-hour episodes will feature four police K-9 teams and one civilian team. The competition will challenge the teams’ abilities in three rounds.
“The skilled teams will be tested on their speed, agility, and teamwork by completing a series of expert tasks on a massive obstacle course including navigating a complex maze for scented items and apprehending and taking down a suspect in a bite suit, among a variety of other challenges,” A&E said.
Each week’s winning team will get $10,000 and an additional $5,000 to donate to the animal charity of their choice. In the last week, top competitors come back to the finale course to earn the title of “America’s Top Dog” and an extra $25,000.
The department and A&E declined to make Tappan (or Mattis) available for an interview. Tappan talked about his history with Mattis earlier this year on a podcast hosted by Councilman Ben Burnett for Appen Media. Appen publishes five weekly papers that cover the northern suburbs.
In the podcast, Tappan talks about pairing up with Mattis and how the dog is named after former United States Secretary of Defense Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis, who is a Marine like Tappan.
Tappan said he had an email exchange with Jim Mattis after Mattis (the dog) was injured going over the retention wall.
Tappan explained how he thought the wall was 10 feet high only to realize he was wrong.
“I see the worst sight, which is my dog flying through the air, falling,” he said.
Tappan said his heart stopped. The K-9 was badly injured but survived.
“I don’t know what I would have done. This is my best friend in the world,” he said.
Their friendship is evident on the popular Instagram page chronicling their adventures. The account has earned more than 33,000 followers and is mostly written in the voice of Mattis, referring to Tappan as SBA, or “Short Bald Alpha.”
They announced Tuesday that they were going to appear on the show, saying, “Amazing show, we had lots of fun and can’t wait for you guys to see it!”
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