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Devon and Cornwall, England devon-cornwall.police.uk

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

A monster update of two passing out parades and a lot more!!




From left to right are Sgt Ali Cruwys with Police dog Lenny, PC Steve Cruwys with Police dog Nato, Course Instructor Hugh Watson, and Mark Pomery with Police dog Ronnie.

They are pictured here on the day of their passing out parade which took place in front of all their friends, relatives and puppy walkers at HQ Middlemoor.

This was the culmination of 13 weeks of intense training under the supervision and Instruction of Hugh Watson. In the final week the teams underwent an independent 2 day assessment by Gloucestershire Police dog Instructor Phil Powell. They had to demonstrate that they had the skills, control and temperament required of an operational Police dog team.

Here are the teams pictured after successfully achieving their operational Police dog licenses.

From left to right are Ali & Lenny, Instructor Hugh Watson, Steve & Nato, Assessor Phil Powell, and Mark with Ronnie. Phil is a very fair assessor who understands the pressure the handlers are under and always puts everyone at ease. The assessments were very fair and achievable taking into account that the handlers are always nervous and the dogs pick up on this.

Phil may be fair but he likes a dog to show the necessary mental resilience and toughness required of a Police dog. Here he is at the front of an unruly crowd making sure that Nato showed the level of courage necessary to deal with such a crowd.

In addition to dealing with violent disorderly crowds the dogs have to deal with armed criminals.

Nato may be an easy going guy but you really don’t want to upset him. He is pictured here about to teach the criminal with the stick that this was a bad choice.

Afterwards Steve is debriefed by Phil on their performance.

We know that Nato gets excited with his criminal work because his ears come up.

Here is Lenny detaining a criminal armed with a gun.

Fortunately now that a significant number of operational officers ( Including dog handlers) carry Tazor stun guns we rarely need to use the dogs to deal with a criminal armed with a weapon.

No dog handler ever wants to send a dog to deal with someone brandishing a bladed weapon because the dog has no concept that he/she could impale themselves as they rush in.

The dogs are also trained to chase and detain a fleeing criminal. They are also trained to recall back to the handler even if they are in the middle of chasing a criminal.  This is in case the dog is in danger such as the criminal running towards a busy road.

If the criminal stops running and gives up the dog should not bite but keep him/her under surveillance preventing their escape until the arrival of the handler.

Most of the work of the dog team involves tracking or searching for outstanding criminals or vulnerable missing persons.
During assessment the dog teams have to achieve a ½ mile track across country recovering 4 articles dropped by the criminal and to locate a hidden criminal at the end of the track. Here is Ali tracking with Lenny who we know is an outstanding tracking dog

Also on the assessment the teams have to search a large open area or buildings or a combination of both to locate 2 outstanding criminals or missing persons. Here is Ronnie having located a criminal hiding up a tree.
Locating outstanding property or articles is also a regular area of our work and on the assessment the teams are given an area where they must locate 4 hidden articles. Here is Mark and Ronnie being given their area by the assessor.

Ronnie is pictured giving a clear indication he has found something in a concrete block.

Mark can’t see what Ronnie is indicating but as always the dog is right
The dogs must give a passive indication and not touch the article so as not to damage any potential DNA on the article.
Police dogs need to be extremely fit and agile because they are regularly required to negotiate fences and obstacles. Here is Lenny tackling the 6 foot scale

and Nato tackling the 7 foot long jump
Control is the bedrock of all of the exercises performed by the dogs and focus on the handler builds the control and also the bond. Here are the teams working on their focus work.

Having successfully completed their assessments the teams prepared for their passing out parade on the final Thursday. The passing out parade gives the chance for friends and family to see the teams pass out but most importantly it gives the puppy walkers the chance to share the day with their dogs and their handlers.

The weather was superb and we had an amazing turnout.
Here are the teams preparing to march on and present themselves for their introduction and display.


Terry and Jill

They are currently puppy walking Tara and have been puppy walking for many years.
Terry and Jill Hodge with Mark and Ronnie.

Ronnie was bred by Alfons Schumeister in Germany and he also bred Tammy, Tag and Tara who are on our January 2018 Initial course.

Susannah Coffin

Susannah Coffin with Steve and Nato. ( Formerly Cato)
Susannah has also been a regular puppy walker for the force.

Nato was bred by Drew Rush along with his 3 litter brothers Dexter, Riggs and; Reggie who all graduated in December 2016.

Drew is pictured here with Steve and Nato

Me with Lenny and Ali.
I imported Lenny at the age of 15 weeks from his breeder Arndt Muller in Germany. Arndt Muller and his father Werner Muller have bred many famous tracking dogs going back many years and in Lenny we have certainly obtained a dog of exceptional tracking ability.

Lenny has lived with me for 18 months and I will miss having him around. But he will be doing what he was bred for with Ali and I know she will make sure he gets plenty of work.

Lenny’s mother Quira has this week whelped 3 pups and we have booked a male pictured here 1 day old.
Hopefully he will follow in Lenny’s footsteps.

Quira’s half sister Laila also had pups 9 weeks ago and we have booked  2 females called Feela and Ferra for our breeding program


Husband and wife team Ali and Steve are pictured here with their children Harry and Rosie. Steve and Nato will be based at Exeter. Ali is the dog section supervisor for Exeter and North Devon
Mark and Ronnie are pictured here with Mark’s family and will be based at Camborne.

The teams completed a short round of control work before putting on individual displays with their dogs. Ali and Lenny did a short heelwork display
and then Steve showed the crowd just how agile Nato is on the agility equipment.

All 3 teams concluded with individual criminal work exercises. They didn’t go exactly to plan but they never do because the passing out parade is the first time the dogs have performed in front of a crowd and there is plenty of time in the months ahead to put in the polish.

The crowd enjoyed it anyway. I have included 5 videos of the dogs performing. ( Show Vids 1 to 5)

Good luck to the teams as they start their careers in the real world.


Pictured rear left to right are Tammy, Tag and Tara who have just turned 7 months. Front left to right are Ozzie, Ollie and Oscar who are just over 4 months. These 6 puppies are for our January 2018 Initial Police dog course.

Although the pups are quite young I decided to assess the reaction of the pups on all of the various shiny floors and different types of stairs at the old Exmouth college. I also introduced some loud and unusual noises to see how strong their nervous systems were.
Here is 7 month old Tammy completely comfortable on the Gymnasium shiny floor.

Her sister Tara was equally at home.

4 month old Ozzie showed his very strong determination to win
The ropes are on a series of overhead pulley’s which spook a lot of dogs because of the overhead noise they make. Ozzie didn’t look up he was so engrossed in winning the tug of war.

None of the photo’s could be used from the other areas of the building because of the poor lighting. All 6 pups performed extremely well and there were no signs of any nervousness to any of the noises or any sign of phobias with shiny floors which is such a problem with German shepherds.

The problem of an aversion to shiny floors doesn’t usually manifest itself until the pups are over 12 months of age and no one seems to know why it happens although there are lots of theories.

This group of pups are all off to the farm for a visit next Sunday which I am really looking forward to.


Ozzie started off with Marie and her family and everything went well for 2 months until the issue of him nipping Marie and the kids became too much of a problem. ( Show Pic 36) I decided after watching him nipping her legs when she tried to walk him that there was potential danger if he did this while crossing a busy road. This problem did not occur with her husband Wayne who is much more assertive in his approach. Reluctantly I decided to remove him and find an alternative puppy walker.

I re-homed him with Chris and his 13 year old Labrador Wellington.

All seemed to be going well but the problem of him nipping his partner and young son resurfaced and so I rehomed him with my most experienced puppy walker Lyn Parlour.
Needless to say everything is going well and I do not anticipate any further issues as Lyn has looked after over 40 dogs for us over many years and Ozzie has already worked out that Lyn is definitely in charge.

I would like to thank Marie for the work she did with Ozzie and also Chris. I will make sure that they are kept fully up to date with Ozzie’s progress. There is nothing wrong with Ozzie other than he is a very strong willed determined puppy who needs an experienced and consistent approach with firm but fair leadership.

It is no reflection at all on Marie and Chris and although both have experience with big dogs both commented that they had never come across dogs like this.

The type of puppy that possesses all the attributes to be an outstanding Police dog usually is a handful in the early months but they do grow out of these biting phases. All the usual advice like distract with a toy or scream out loud or put the pup in his cage rarely works with some of the type of pups we have.

If you look at the 2 pictures of Ozzie when he came back to me you will notice that he does not even attempt to steal Sasha’s toy even though he desperately wants to.

I can tell you that Sasha did not achieve this respect by the use of a clicker, titbit or polite request to leave her toy alone.

He tried it once and as tough as he is he quickly realised it was not in his interests to do it again. I must emphasize that we would always initially use non forceful methods to achieve a result with all of our pups but occasionally a pup like Ozzie comes along and a stronger approach is needed.

We clearly don’t expect our puppy walkers to employ this approach and with such pups they need to be allocated to a very experienced puppy walker.

I am sure Ozzie is going to be an outstanding future Police dog whichever handler ends up with him is going to be very lucky indeed.


Here is Rudi and the D litter  on our last Sunday training day where we prepared for our forthcoming assessments in June which will determine which dogs will be selected for the September 2017 Initial Police dog course.

From left to right are Rudi, Dizzy, Donna, Devon, Danno and Duke. We practised our tracking, article searching, introduction to person searching, and basic biting work on a bite cushion.

The only absentee was Daisy because puppy walker Eamon is on holiday.

Here are Donna, Devon, Dizzy and Duke all enjoying their training.

With the exception of Duke everyone is progressing very well in all elements of their work and the development of their characters. Duke has no inclination to join in any work whatsoever because he is clearly unhappy working in and around the other dogs and is very clingy to his puppy walker Lyn.

I have taken Duke to stay with me, Rudi and Sasha to see if I can get to the bottom of the issues that are clearly bothering him. He enjoyed looking around the garden and I am sure he remembered his time there as a young puppy having been born and raised at my house
He is now started to gain confidence and loves running and interacting with Rudi. I will assess him over the next week and although I don’t think he has the general confidence to be a Police dog I will give him every chance.

In my early years of assessing dogs I would have instantly retired him but experience has taught me never write them off because sometimes they can just surprise you. Argo from the A litter and Cosmic from the C litter are case in point. Both were nervy and unsure as pups but both are now licensed Police dogs.

Duke has impressed me with his work ethic in the last few days. His tracking, article searching and tug work is extremely good. His tendency to launch at other dogs has all but gone and he is becoming much more confident. Early days but excellent progress so far.
I will let you know how he gets on in the coming weeks.

I hope to invite the owners of the 3 pups we had to sell from the  D litter  to join the rest of their 6 litter mates for a character assessment within the coming weeks. This would give me an accurate picture of how successful the litter have been and whether to have another litter from Sasha in August this year.

From Duke and me Bye for now.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Ronnie, Nato and Lenny are on schedule to complete their initial Police Dog course but Bernie, Bevan and Billy are all released from the training program

Unfortunately things have changed dramatically since our last update on the January 2017 Initial Police dog course. Pictured above are the original course members and their dogs. At the rear are husband and wife team PS Ali Cruwys with Billy and PC Steve Cruwys with Nato. In front are PC Chris Williamson with Bernie and PC Mark Pomery with Ronny.

As the course progressed we have had to release Bernie at week 5 because he was unable to concentrate and focus on his tracking and in addition he wasn’t completely comfortable on shiny floor surfaces in buildings.

Around the same time we also had to release Billy who also had a problem negotiating shiny floor surfaces but more worryingly lacked commitment on the criminal work exercises.

We have found excellent new homes for both Bernie and Billy. Bernie has been kept by his puppy walking family and Billy is now with Mary Simpson who is a retired Devon and Cornwall Police dog handler.

To cover for unexpected eventualities we had 2 spare dogs for the course Lenny & Bevan. Lenny has been with me since I collected him from Germany aged 4 months and I trained and prepared him for his Initial Police dog course which he successfully passed in December 2016.

He has remained with me until a handler could be identified. Having taken the disappointing decision to release Billy we needed to find a replacement dog for Ali. Lenny who is a very lively and highly driven dog was the obvious choice because of her experience and ability.

Chris was allocated Bevan who is the litter brother of Bernie.

Unfortunately despite a good start it was quite apparent that Bevan just didn’t have the necessary drive and determination to be a Police dog and therefore he also had to be released from the program.

Bevan like his two brother also had the dreaded curse of not being comfortable with shiny and changing floor surfaces. Bevan is a lovely dog and we have found him an excellent home with Hazel Jago in North Devon.

Hazel has had previous retired Police dogs from us and I know Bevan will have a great home.

Lenny has settled well with Ali as the two of them start the process of completing the course and developing a bond together.

We now continue with a revised line up of 3 handlers to complete the course. On the left Mark with Ronny, Steve with Nato and Ali with Lenny.

Chris has returned to Guernsey and has been matched with a 6 year old fully licensed operational Police dog. Apparently the dog’s previous handler has retired and can’t take him with him and so Chris will be his new handler. Chris only has 3 years before he retires and so hopefully it will work out well.

From my perspective I feel that I have let Chris down in not providing him with a successful dog. It is my responsibility to provide handlers with suitable dogs and while you can never guarantee success there have been quite a number of dogs recently that have not graduated.

Chris has shown a first class attitude throughout the course and I would like to pay tribute to him for the dignified way he has dealt with his disappointment after the weeks of attending from Guernsey and the obvious upheaval for his family.

I now need to look at 2 areas to prevent or reduce the likelihood of us ending up in this situation again. Area 1 is we need to improve the quality of pups that are acquired.

Our breeders should not be criticised because they breed excellent German Shepherds with super temperaments and their market is not exclusively for the Police but the general public. But to be a Police dog the pups need to be very tough, resilient and have a very strong hunting and tracking instinct.

Clearly of late some of the pups have lacked some of those qualities and I need to increase the level of scrutiny in future selection.

Area 2 is to provide a much more robust assessment of the dogs prior to going on the course.

I will also be looking at the feasibility of purchasing adult dogs from the K10 service dog centre in Holland. I would prefer to stick with our puppy program as it has served us well for over 25 years but clearly we cannot continue with the failure rate I have experienced within the last 2 years.

My thoughts and sympathies are also with the puppy walking families who have put so much into the scheme by looking after our pups only to suffer the massive disappointment of them not making it.

No blame can be levelled at our puppy walkers because they religiously attend all of our training sessions and cannot do any more than they have in the development of their puppies.

The buck stops firmly at my door.

Here are some photos of the dog teams taken this week. The course is now in week 9.

Here are Mark and Ronny at the conclusion of a successful track.

Here is Steve and Nato getting ready to track down an offender who has made of across country.

Tracking down offenders or vulnerable missing persons is our number one area of work. The dog follows the trail left by the offender. Lenny is an outstanding tracking dog and is pictured here tracking across country with Ali and locates the offender hiding high in a barn.

The dogs are trained to search for and locate discarded items connected to crime or lost items. They are trained to indicate to their handler that they have found the item without touching it. Nato is pictured here telling Steve he has found something.

Ronny is telling Mark he has found something under the metal plate.

Lenny is giving Ali a lovely indication that something has been hidden in the light.

The dogs are also trained to search for hidden criminals or missing persons and Ronny is clearly telling his handler Mark that someone is hiding behind the toilet door.

The dogs love to deal with violent or fleeing criminals both in real situations and training situations. They also enjoy dispersing violent or disorderly crowds. Here is our criminal Mark threatening the team and Nato is definitely the wrong dog to threaten.

Steve doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to get Nato to let go of Mark’s arm. I'm sure Mark will get his own back when its Ronny’s turn.

Control is the foundation of all the exercises that we teach our dogs and it is achieved by rewarding the dog with either titbits, a toy or praise. Here is Ronny giving Mark excellent focus and also doing distance control work in the sit and down.

Here is Steve giving an excellent demonstration of heel-work and then the down stay with Nato.

Steve has no excuses for not achieving the down stay because as you can see from the video Nato’s puppy walker Susannah had achieved a good standard before the course started.


Not to be outdone by her husband Steve despite only having Lenny for a few days Ali demonstrates lovely focus and a solid down stay with Lenny.

I am missing Lenny very much but I am comforted by the fact he is doing what he was born to do ie work. Meanwhile back at my place Rudi and Sasha are getting on very well together but they also miss him.

I thought I would share a photo of a Rottweiler called Ludo who was offered to our force by Rottweiler rescue. He is pictured on the far left of the photo while engaged on a local shoot.

We didn’t take him into the force but we found him a home with a local gamekeeper via my friend Graham Mabbutt. Apparently he was prone to being dog aggressive. I think the gamekeeper should be congratulated.

I would like to finish by paying tribute to my puppy walkers who work so hard only to suffer the disappointment of their pups not graduating. My thanks to Lynn Parlour with Bevan, Paul Minchington with Bob, Paul Sabin with Bernie and Nigel and Sue Davey with Billy.

Here are the four boys practising for last years Devon County Show. Left to right, Bernie, Bob, Billy and Bevan.

I want to make it clear that these were four absolutely super dogs and an excellent advertisement for the breed in terms of their character and temperament. Just as everyone is not cut out to be a Royal Marine, not every dog is cut out to be a police dog. It doesn't mean they are inferior to such dogs in any way.

Having to part with Lenny and the loss of these super pups from this program has left me quite depressed but there is no time to dwell and as always I am actively working away to put what has been a very disappointing 18 months behind us.

I will be doing a blog of the passing out parade on the 6th of April and I am also doing a special blog on just what it takes to go from puppy to police dog.

Bye for now.