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Monday, 28 April 2014

The A litter are assessed for their suitability to be future police dogs

How time flies it only seems yesterday that I watched their mother Ruby delivering and raising her 7 pups and now here they are nearly 11 months old being assessed as to their suitability to be Police dogs. Having watched them growing up and attending their fortnightly training I already had a good understanding of their individual characters, strengths and their weakness’s.

But it is their 3 day assessment centre when they reach 10 months of age which determines whether they are either passed to go forward for further training on their Initial Police dog course or released from the programme. All of the litter have been assessed during the previous 3 weeks and so here is summary of how they all got on.

During the 3 day period they are assessed on a wide range of skills and abilities and they are monitored to see how they cope with the stress of being away from home living in our kennel environment. This can be intimidating for a youngster hearing the older experienced Police dogs in adjoining kennels. They are assessed in the following areas.

1.    THEIR POTENTIAL TO FOLLOW A TRACK  ( This is the ability to follow a trail left by a criminal or missing person which is a large part of our work and we require a dog with real determination and natural aptitude in this area).
Arry demonstrating this aptitude (tracking)

2.    ARTICLE SEARCHING POTENTIAL ( This is the ability to search for articles or evidence dropped or hidden by criminals ie gloves, hats, tools, car keys, wallets, torches, or anything that could have DNA on it to link to the criminal).
Ash demonstrating real determination searching on top of conifer bushes

3.    PERSON SEARCHING POTENTIAL (This is the ability to use air scent to locate a criminal or missing person. A dog can locate someone on air scent up to half a mile away if the wind is blowing towards the dog.)
Arry locating a dubious character hiding in a building

4.    CRIMINAL WORK POTENTIAL  ( This is assessing the desire and tenacity to detain and if necessary fight with a violent or fleeing criminal. We can gauge this by the dogs attitude in engaging with the helper who wears a protective sleeve which the dog must bite. Whilst the dog must have boldness he must also show a willingness to listen to his handler if he is told to let go or recall to his handler).
Ava demonstrating she is more than bold enough to oblige.

5.    PLAY DRIVE ( This is basically the desire to engage in play with a toy or tugger)
Argo showing real focus as he is about to chase and pounce on the tugger held on a line.

6.    REACTION TO GUNFIRE (For obvious reasons a Police dog has to be steadfast to the sound of gunfire).

7.    ENVIRONMENTAL CONFIDENCE ( This is assessing the levels of confidence in everyday  situations such as a busy city centre, heavy traffic, loud and unusual noises, crowds.

8.    CONFIDENCE IN BUILDINGS ( As our dogs have to search lots of buildings they need to be comfortable on all types of floor surfaces, negotiating different stairs and dark rooms etc).

9.    CONFIDENCE IN THE PRESENCE OF A NOISY CROWD ( On the assessment they should not show any timidity on hearing a noisy crowd. They also have to accept a small passive crowd closing in on them without showing any panic).
Anya enjoying her interaction with a noisy crowd.

10.    BOLDNESS OR COURAGE TEST. This is an essential test for a Police dog. On one test the dog is allowed off lead to walk through a wood when a stranger wearing a mask jumps out from behind a tree startling the dog. At 10 months of age dogs are not fully mature and a certain amount of flight is acceptable but we are more interested in how quickly the dog recovers once the person removes his mask and engages in conversation with the person walking the dog.

A second test is carried out where a dummy on the ground in the wood is hoisted in the air on a line as the dog walks past. Again the dog is assessed on how quickly he goes to investigate the dummy once it stops moving and is lowered back onto the ground.
Axel standing his ground
Axel standing his ground when the wolf man appears suddenly without warning from behind the tree. For a young 10 month old dog his reaction was exceptional. This is a dog that will not let his handler down in a tight fix. His recovery was excellent.

Well there you have it a flavour of what these young dogs are required to do. With the exception of the Boldness test the dogs thoroughly enjoy the 3 days because it is in their genes to work and they love it.

I realise you are by now itching to know how they all did as far as their potential to be future Police dogs. But before I tell you I would just like to say how proud I am of all of them. They are all excellent examples of working German shepherds in terms of their construction and most importantly their temperament.

That is down to their excellent breeding ie their father Marley and mother Ruby and all the hard work put in by our puppy walkers. What shone through was the exceptional tracking ability on all of the dogs which we knew Marley has in abundance from his operational success’s but it also confirms that Ruby also has that ability and has passed it on.

Marley with his handler Terry Davies.
Ruby with her 7 mischievous pups at 6 weeks of age.
Mark, Ruby and Liv
I would like to pass on our thanks to Ruby’s brood carers Mark and Liv for giving Ruby such a good home and looking after her for us.

All 7 dogs passed their working assessments but unfortunately on the boldness test Argo didn’t do very well which means he will not be passed to go forward to the Initial Police dog course in September this year. We also have a doubt about the size of Anya who is probably going to be too small to be a Police dog due to her lack of presence.

She certainly doesn’t lack heart and attitude. We will keep her in the programme until September to see if she grows any more.

So in summary Axel, Arry, Ash, Annie, and Ava have all been passed for further training. Axel and Arry have already been allocated to their new handlers and have commenced their training. The 3 girls Ava, Annie and Ash will be allocated to new handlers for the September Initial Police dog course. Anya will also be allocated to a handler on that course if she gains more size.

I will be having Argo in for an attachment with me to assess his character in more detail to ensure we find a suitable owner that matches his personality and needs.


Attached to this blog is the latest BBC Spotlight coverage of the A litter. I would like to thank Andrea Ormsby who has been the reporter following us throughout for her sense of humour and help with the project. I know she has enjoyed it and is grateful to everyone for their kindness and patience.

The A litter: An individaul summary of each dogs performance and character

I have included individual pictures of all the dogs as they are now (nearly 11 months) and how they were at 6 weeks of age. I have also included a short individual summary of each dogs performance and character.

Axel

Axel was born to rule this world. A very confident enthusiastic and independent character who meets every challenge and situation head on. A larger than life character who will need a firm but fair handler with a sense of humour.

Our thanks to puppy walkers Steve Pearce  and his family  in Launceston who raised and cared for Axel.

Arry

Arry also assessed as a very confident enthusiastic and intelligent young dog. His basic niceness will capture your heart but his determined character and high energy will still require a firm but fair approach.

Our thanks to puppy walkers Paul Bean and family in Plymouth who raised and cared for Arry.

Argo

Argo has shown some insecurities since he was a young pup but he was much improved and confident for most of the assessments. A dog with a lovely nature, very enthusiastic and with good work drives. He did find it difficult to recover from the Courage tests and even with maturity I feel he will not be bold enough to be a Police dog.

Our thanks to puppy walkers Lyn Parlour and family in Plymouth who raised and cared for Argo.

Ash

Ash has been raised by Annie Miller a very experienced puppy walker who has developed Ash particularly in her tracking to an exceptional level. She passed all of her tests with flying colours. She has shown the occasional lack of boldness while growing up and Annie was concerned she might struggle on the courage tests. She needn’t have worried because she assessed very well in this area. A very enthusiastic sweet bitch but very feisty if pushed. What an appetite for her food.

Our thanks to puppy walker Annie Miller in Redruth who raised and cared for Ash.

Annie

Annie in many ways is the female version of Axel in that she meets everything head on and will need firm leadership. She passed all of her assessments with flying colours but she did show her hackles towards some of the children playing on the sports field and so she will need to come in for development in this area.

Our thanks to puppy walkers Ollie Abercrombie and family in Paignton in the early months and Susannah Coffin and family since for raising and caring for Annie.

Anya

Anya is a very high energy young bitch with an obsession to track everywhere she goes to the exclusion of everything around her. We had to work hard to get her to focus on her assessments and by day 3 she was performing at a very exceptional level. She is very small in stature which is a shame as her working potential is exciting. Hopefully she will grow a bit bigger by September but my guess is it is unlikely. Fingers crossed.

Our thanks to puppy walkers Graham Attwood and family for raising and caring for Anya.

Ava

You could be forgiven for assessing Ava as too nice to be a Police dog such is her lovely gentle and sensible nature. That would be a mistake as she quickly gets over any sensitivities she has and is a very determined and feisty little character when she gets going. She flew through all of her tests and with a patient and caring handler she will do well.

Our thanks to puppy walkers Ed Harris and Lowri for raising and caring for Ava.

I would like to thank Andrea Ormsby who has been the reporter following us throughout for her sense of humour and help with the project. I know she has enjoyed it and is grateful to everyone for their kindness and patience.


Thanks for checking in on us.
Paul Glennon and the A litter

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