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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

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The B litter and Yogi enjoy a great day out at Saunercroft Farm

Sunday the 13th of April 2014 on a glorious sunny afternoon we all made our way to Saundercroft farm near Broadclyst, Exeter for some livestock familiarisation  training. Police dog handler Andi Darby whose mother Jean owns the farm kindly allowed us access to all the animals on the farm for the afternoon.

What a fantastic day out it was for everybody. The dogs loved it and were so sensible and well behaved. I am obviously biased because I bred the B litter but to see 7 young puppies under 6 months of age calmly interacting with sheep, cattle, chickens, the 7 year old farmyard German shepherd Holly, Jack the rescue pony and the huge stable horses made me very proud indeed.

It is very important for all dogs to be well behaved in and around livestock but particularly Police dogs because they are regularly tasked to search for criminals or vulnerable missing persons in Rural locations. If they cannot be trusted to work off lead around cattle, sheep horses or other animals without being distracted then they are inefficient and a liability.



Pictured here are my retired Police dog Spud and my brood bitch Mollie being schooled through a herd of cows which they have done from an early age and are now completely safe and relaxed in and around livestock.

Naturally we do not expect our puppy walkers to be walking through herds of cows with their pups because of the obvious dangers but our dog handlers when they get their new dogs will school them through all types of livestock on a line for the reasons I have outlined.

I well remember my first Police dog Harry searching for a farmer who while drunk had crashed his car into the front room of house before running off across fields towards his farmhouse to escape. My dog ran into a large field in the darkness and he disappeared into a huge herd of cows who were all massed together. I then heard him barking and then realised the farmer was actually hiding in amongst all of his cows. The farmer was somewhat miffed when I arrested him but congratulated my Police dog Harry for being so focused on searching and ignoring his cows.

We started the day introducing the dogs to the sheep and lambs. The highlight of the day for us all was 2 hand reared lambs called Al and Wooly who showed no fear towards the pups and happily interacted with them.
Also pictured enjoying the sheep are Blade, Yogi and Bruno
Pictured here are Boris, Bruno and Buddy looking on at the sheep and lambs.
Next it was on to the cows where Yogi clearly found them extremely interesting.
Bebe also found them of interest and is pictured here licking one on the nose.
Also pictured is Brodie getting a closer look at the rescue pony Jack
We all then took a brief time out to compare notes.
Then it was off to meet the very large horses in the stables.
Pictured here is Boris meeting Ozzy who was very large and imposing but fortunately very relaxed
Next it was Buddy’s turn to meet Ozzy. The normally mischievous Buddy is clearly admiring Ozzy’s considerable size as he decides on his options.
Finally it was on to meet the chickens.
Pictured here is Yogi walking around the corner to be met by a large group of chickens and can hardly believe his luck.
Next Bebe and Bruno get into the act
At the end of a fantastic day we all get together for a group picture and  memento of the visit.


Pictured from left to right Jean (owner of the farm) with Holly, Chris and Donna with Bebe, Jill and Yogi, Paul with Bruno, Ken with Boris, My wife Diane and baby Lamb Al, Mike with Brodie, Kevin a Police officer from Cornwall hoping to be a dog handler and was camera man for the day, Lindsay with Buddy, Pony Jack with Baby lamb Wooly sat on his back with Dog handler Andi and finally Emma with Blade.

My next blog will let you all know how the A litter get on with their final assessments so until then bye for now.

Paul

Monday, 7 April 2014

Bebe uses up the second of her nine lives

Puppy walker Chris rang me on Wednesday to say that puppy Bebe from the B litter had just  collapsed after being sick whilst out on a walk and that he had rushed her to the nearest vets. My heart filled with dread for Bebe but even more so for Chris and his family after all the pain they went through when Brood bitch Cleo who they were looking after collapsed and died of a stomach torsion last year.
Me with Mum, don't I look cute!
Bebe who is pictured here with her mother Mollie is no stranger to getting into difficulties as I well remember her climbing into the disinfectant bucket at 3 and a half weeks of age while I was cleaning out the whelping box.
That was not a good idea on reflection!
She is pictured here shortly after I pulled her out and dried her off looking very sorry for herself.

Fortunately the vets were able to get to work on her and although arriving in quite a poorly condition her fighting spirit and strong constitution no doubt assisted in her quick recovery and she is now fully on the mend.

It transpires that Chris had been replanting some daffodils in his garden the day before and she had eaten one of the bulbs. Chris was unaware of how lethal a dog eating daffodils can be. The flowers and leaves are also toxic and it takes only 15 grams to kill a dog. There is no antidote and the only treatment is to make the dog sick and to get the dog straight to the vet. The dog will most likely need to go on a drip while recovery takes place.

Our thanks go to the Vets and staff at City vets in Exwick for their excellent care and help in treating Bebe.
I'm ok, no really - no more bulbs for me!
Bebe is pictured here with Chris and the family.

See you all next week when I will be doing a blog on the B litter’s visit to the farm.

Buzz and Vinnie qualify for the National Police Dog Trials

This week has been eventful to say the least. I spent the week helping PC Tim Goodwin and Police dog Buzz from Camborne dog section and PC Lee Adamson and Police dog Vinnie from North Devon dog section to prepare for the National Police dog assessments which are being held in South Yorkshire in mid May this year.
Left PC Tim Goodwin and Buzz. Right PC Lee Adamson and Vinnie
The National Police dog assessments are held annually and are hosted by a different Police force each year. The best Police dogs from the whole of the UK are assessed on all of the operational skills required of Police dog teams.

To qualify both teams had to win through the Devon and Cornwall Police dog assessments and then the Regional Police dog assessments recently held in Gwent where they competed against the best Police dogs from Avon and Somerset, Gloucester, Wiltshire, Dorset, Gwent and South Wales.

Police dog assessments are held to assess the operational standards of Police dog teams. They assess a wide range of skills and abilities which include the ability to deal with a  large violent crowd,  apprehending violent and fleeing criminals,  searching for vunerable missing persons, agility skills, obedience skills, tracking skills, searching for outstanding property and assessments of the dogs individual temperaments to make sure they are trustworthy and safe moving in amongst groups of innocent people.

Organising and running the week was hard work but it was well worth it to see two dogs from our puppy scheme performing at such a high standard.

Both Lee with Vinnie aged 6  and Tim with Buzz aged 4 are working their first operational dogs  and should be congratulated for the hard work they have obviously put in to get to the exceptional standard that they have achieved. You do not get to this level without devoting a lot of time working and training your dog with a large majority of it in your off duty time.

What really impressed me was the fantastic bond both handlers have with their dogs and for me it was a pleasure to see 2 dogs who clearly adore their handlers.

I have included some pictures of the week.
Tim and Buzz prepare to search woodland to try and locate a couple of dangerous individual fugitives.
Buzz locates one individual up a ladder and alerts his handler to tell him he has found him by barking
Vinnie locates the second male who is sitting down offering no violence and so Vinnie alerts his handler
Lee prepares to go and search the individual for any weapons he may be concealing and Vinnie watches intently ready to launch to his handlers defense if the offender tries any funny business.
Tim and Buzz tracking an offender who has made off across country.
Tim sending Buzz over the long jump
Vinnie stops the fleeing criminal in his tracks.
This criminal is going nowhere
The handlers have now gone back to their areas with their homework to prepare over the next 6 weeks and I will give you all an update as to how they get on in their assessments in May. We all wish them the best of luck but whatever happens they have done our force proud by qualifying to get there.
Well done Tim and Buzz .
Well done Lee and Vinnie.


Paul Glennon

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The initial course that never was

Apologies to all for the delay in getting out my latest blog but this was due to all the outstanding leave I needed to take or lose before the start of the new leave year. Since my last blog my old Police dog Spud celebrated his 10th birthday and is pictured here at our favourite spot which we visit every day on our walks at Killerton National trust park.

Also in the picture is Mollie the mother of our B litter. Mollie is Spud’s soul mate because they have been together since Mollie came to us aged 7 weeks.

Mollies B litter are all doing well and are now 4 months old. Pictured here is Boris from the B litter and mum. We looked after Boris for the weekend while his puppy walkers took a weekend break.

You probably remember on a previous blog I informed you that our force had cancelled the January 2014 Initial Police dog course because none of our handlers needed a replacement dog. As a result we sold our 3 dogs to Derbyshire and Bedfordshire Police. Having sold our dogs lady luck was not kind to us because in the space of a month we had to retire 3 of our operational dogs prematurely. Police dog Roxy aged 5 handled by PC Phil Wilson of Exeter dog section was diagnosed with Lymphatic cancer. Police dog Winnie aged 4 handled by Carla Labden of Newton Abbott dog section developed a phobia for certain floor surfaces and tragically Police dog Megan aged 18 months and handled by PC Simon Willan of North Devon dog section lost her eye in a freak accident over the Christmas period. Normally that would have meant all of those handlers having to wait until the September course for a new dog. But fortunately once again our puppy programme proved its value and all was not lost. Police puppy Jack (Famous for his appearance on spotlight having eaten his puppy walkers diamond ring) had been kept in the puppy programme despite failing his courage tests. I decided to stick with Jack because he had never shown any fear of anything as he was growing up. I also thought that given more time to mature he would come good. He is repaying our faith because he is now in week 8 of his initial Police dog course and is going well.

Jack is pictured here with his new handler Phil Wilson.

Phil’s retired dog Roxy is responding well to her treatment for cancer and is getting on famously with her new mate Jack. Our next stroke of luck was that Bedfordshire Police returned Police puppy Charlie because their vet had concerns about him having a slightly overshot jaw. I had him examined by our vet who stated he was fit to work. We then started Charlie on his Initial Police dog course and he is also going well and is now in week 5 of his course.

He is pictured here with his new handler Simon Willan.

Finally we drafted in Arry from our A litter who although only 10 months old is raring to go and starts his Initial Police dog course with me next week. It is a very proud moment for me because having bred the A litter which included Arry I am really excited about training him.

He is pictured here with his new handler Carla Labden. 

Last week I had all of the A litter and Grommit in for their final training session before they undergo their formal Police dog suitability assessments in April. I will be doing a separate blog to explain what the various assessments entail, what we are looking for and how they all get on. I have included some photos of the A litter taken last week now that they are all coming up to 10 months of age. I cant believe how quickly the time has gone since they were born and how they have all grown.

Argo with puppy walker Lyn. 

Ava with puppy walker Ed and Lowri. 

Annie relaxing in the bushes.

Anya with puppy walker Graham. 

Ash with puppy walker Annie

Gromitt taking in the view.

I would like to give a special mention to Axel’s puppy walker Steve who has really done an excellent job.







Axel has a heart of gold but his powerful physique, extremely high energy levels, strong determination and independent personality make him a real handful. He would have tested an experienced Police dog handler but because of Steve’s persistence all the hard work is now paying off. You don’t need to be an expert to see the bond Steve has with Axel. He is clearly saying I am enjoying being with you what are we going to do next.



Paul Glennon