Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

January 23, 2013

Vohne Liche TV series to make debut Feb. 8

Local dog trainers to also appear on "Letterman" show

By Carson Gerber
Tribune staff writer

— A 16-episode reality TV series featuring Vohne Liche Kennels and its police dog training program is set to start airing Feb. 8 on cable channel Nat Geo Wild, and the series is drawing national attention.

The cast of local trainers will make an appearance on “The Late Show with David Letterman” Feb. 6.

The show “Alpha Dogs” follows Ken Licklider, who founded and owns the kennel located just north of Peru, and his trainers as they hone their canines’ drug-sniffing, bomb-seeking skills for police departments and military personnel all over the world.

Each episode will chronicle the methods used to train both dogs and handlers, who ultimately participate in elite operations across the globe.

Licklider said filming began in May 2012 and wrapped up in October. During that time, he said film crews followed him and five of his trainers six days a week, capturing the ins and outs of what it takes to train a dog for some of the most dangerous work in law enforcement.

“It was a lot more intense than any of us thought it would be,” he said. “The process was arduous.”

But the end product is amazing, he said, and the show accurately and dramatically depicts the inside world of dog training at Vohne Liche.

He said some episodes will feature local law enforcement agencies employing the canines, including the police departments in Kokomo, Peru and Logansport, and the Miami County Sheriff Department. There also will be footage from Hawaii, Los Angeles and Arizona.

The series would never have happened, however, if Licklider hadn’t run into Jack Osbourne, son of heavy-metal rocker Ozzy Osbourne. Licklider said Osbourne came to the kennel to buy a dog, and after striking up a conversation, they became fast friends.

Osbourne said he was starting a production company called Schweet Entertainment, and he wanted his first TV show to be about Licklider and his crew.

Licklider said at first he wasn’t sure about the idea.

“We didn’t see what the big deal was. It was just filming the stuff that we do every day,” he said. “We’re just five knuckle-draggers from Indiana, you know? We’re not actors by any stretch of the imagination.”

But Osbourne talked Licklider into doing the series, and Licklider said he’s glad he did.

“We’re just crazy excited,” he said.

Now that “Alpha Dogs” is set to air, Licklider said he and the trainers are readying for a media blitz to promote the show. On Feb. 6, they’ll be guests on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and do a training demonstration. They’re also set to appear on a Canada talk show, and “Nightline” plans to do a profile story on Vohne Liche.

Earlier this month, Licklider said he and his crew flew to Los Angeles, where they met up with Osbourne and talked about the show to members of the Television Critics Association.

But you won’t have to go far to see the national premiere of “Alpha Dogs.” People will get their first glimpse of the new series Feb. 4 in Peru, where the Roxy Theater will host the cast and crew and show the first episode on all five screens.

Considering the show, Licklider said the entire experience has been a wild ride, and it’s hard to believe it’s really happening.

“I’ve always been excited,” he said. “But now that I saw the first commercial for the show, it’s really starting to hit me.”

Vohne Liche Kennels is the largest K-9 training academy in the nation, producing around 600 professional-level canines a year. Their dogs can be found in police departments, security offices and military units in nearly every major metropolitan area in the U.S. and in more than 30 countries.

In full view:

“Alpha Dogs,” a new reality TV show featuring dog trainers at Miami County’s Vohne Liche Kennels, will be introduced in two weeks.

• Feb. 4, View a pre-screening of the first episode at the Roxy Theater, 100 Roxy Lane, Peru.

• Feb. 6, trainers appear on “Late Show with David Letterman.”

• Feb. 8, series premiers at 9 p.m. on cable’s Nat Geo Wild.

Carson Gerber is a Kokomo Tribune reporter. He may be reached at 765-854-6739, or by email at carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com.