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Monday, 28 October 2013

Half way through our 13 week general purpose initial Police dog course

Time seems to move on so quickly it only seems yesterday that our latest batch of new recruits started their Devon and Cornwall Police Dog General purpose initial course on the 9th of September.


Posing for a group picture

Pictured above are  the course members all hoping to become Police dog teams. From left to right are  PC Darren  Tenby and Police dog Shadow who if successful will be serving in Camborne, Instructor Graham Attwood, PC Simon Willian and Police dog Megan who will be serving in North Devon, ( Me) Paul Glennon , PC Vikki Ritchie and Police dog Jasper who will be serving in Newton Abbott and PC Scott Perkins and Police dog Max who will also be serving in Camborne.

Simon started the course with Trainee Police dog  Zeta but unfortunately around week 4 of the course  Zeta became very wary of different floor surfaces when searching buildings and as a result she  had to retire  from Police duties.  Becoming wary of  shiny floor surfaces is a strange phenomenon and we don’t really know why dogs suffer from it. It always seems to happen when a dog gets to around 16 months. We have never had a young pup suffer from it and Zeta had been on these same floors as a pup without a problem. This was very disappointing for us all but particularly Simon because she was developing very well and was adored by his family.

For Zeta the story does have a happy ending as she will be going to Graham and Elaine Anderson who puppy walked Jasper. Graham found having to hand Jasper over to his new handler Vikki so upsetting that he could not face puppy walking again. As soon as Zeta became available Graham and Elaine jumped at the chance to have her.

If ever one of our pups has to be released from the programme we always offer the puppy walkers first option to keep the dog. On this occasion Zeta’s puppy walkers Terry and Jill Hodge decided that due to their advancing years and because they visit their relatives in New Zealand it wasn’t fair to take on Zeta when she hopefully will live for 10 or more years. They hope to remain as puppy walkers as they feel they can commit to the shorter period of puppy walking for 12 months.

As soon as the decision was made to retire Zeta we allocated Megan to Simon. Megan had been run along as a spare dog for the course to cover unforeseen circumstances such as these.

Simon and Megan hit it off immediately and are already at the level of the other dogs on the course.
Dog handler pulling on a dogs lead to hold the dog back from attacking a man backed onto a tree in a wood.

Simon is pictured above with Megan searching for a criminal in woodland showing that although small in stature she lacks nothing in attitude.

Walking a dog to heel
He is also pictured doing heelwork with Megan and the concentration and developing bond is there for all to see.

The course is a very demanding course for dogs and handlers and weekends usually involves a lot of sleeping and chilling out ( used to be known as relaxing).

The teams have to attain a very high standard in lots of disciplines throughout the 13 week course and will be assessed by an assessor from another force during week 12. Our assessor is going to be PC Nick Dalrymple the current National Police dog champion from Avon and Somerset Police dog section so we will need to be at our best.

The teams have to become very accomplished at tracking and searching for offenders and missing persons, dealing with disorderly crowds, protecting their handlers and detaining violent criminals, locating outstanding property dropped by offenders to obtain their DNA, developing their agility, and working on obtaining a very high level of control just to name some of the skills developed.


Dog jumping a wooden jump

Dog walking to heel

Pictured above is Police dog Max clearing the hurdle with Scott and again showing intense concentration doing heelwork which he is obviously enjoying.


A dog jumping  a wooden platform jump
A dog barking at a man backed into a tree in a wood
Pictured above is Police dog Shadow and Darren learning to negotiate high walls and having located a criminal in the woods convinces him it is not a good idea to try and escape.

A dog looking at his master standing to attention by his side
I have also included a picture showing Shadow learning to focus on his handler Darren.

Tracking is without doubt the most used discipline for Police dogs and probably accounts for 80% of our work. The dog is taught to follow the scent of an offender or missing person who has left the area and needs to be located urgently.

Tracking, the dog leading the way.
Dog and handler standing in the wood looking relaxed

Police dog Jasper is pictured tracking across country with his handler Vikki and relaxing together  afterwards on a job well done.

During the week I am running the course and mentoring Graham to enable him to run future initial courses. On a Sunday I still train the puppy walkers and their pups but I am unable to give them as much time as I would like during the week until the course is complete.

I am also running potential Police dog Jack parallel with the course. Jack failed his courage test prior to the course and under normal circumstances he would have been retire from the scheme. I have retained him because he is so good at all the other disciplines I am hoping he will become more confident as he gains experience. The early signs are good and if he continues to improve we will run him through another courage tests.

Dog tracking on lead and pulling handler behind
He is pictured here tracking with me across country and he is very good at it.

Because we are not running an initial course in January 2014 we have had to find places with other Police forces for our January dogs. Two of those dogs  Bear and Cody have gone to Dorset Police force who needed dogs for two of their handlers. They are both doing very well with their new handlers and have just successfully completed week 6 of their Initial Police dog course which is being run by the Surrey dog training school.

Hopefully I will have some photo’s of their progress when I report on the end of course assessments of all of the dogs.


Finally our brood bitch Mollie is confirmed pregnant to Stud dog Quasimodo (pictured above - sorry for the late edition) and her pups are due on November 20th when we hopefully people will be able  to follow their progress on our webcam.

Next week I will do an update on the progress of Ruby’s litter of pups the A litter.

See you then Paul Glennon.