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.