Monday 27 January 2014

The B litter prepare to leave on their journey to become future police dogs

Well here we are 7 weeks after witnessing all of the pups being born and just about to say goodbye as they all make their way on the first stage of their journey with their new puppy walkers. The only one who didn’t leave me was Bebe as I only had 7 puppy walkers available to take on pups. I realise with my busy schedule I will probably have to find a place for Bebe but for now I am just enjoying having her.

Here they are pictured  individually with their new names and the area they will be living with their puppy walkers.

Left: Boris and Ken (Newquay) Right: Blade and Emma (Exeter)

Left: Beckie and Diane, middle: Bruno with Paul (Torquay), right: Brodie and Mike (Tywardreth).
Left: Beau and Darryl (Exeter), middle: Bebe and myself (Exeter), right: Buddy with Anthony (Plymouth).

Prior to being allocated to their puppy walkers all the pups had undergone an assessment of their potential to become Police dogs on Thursday 8th January 2014.

The assessment was carried out by Graham Mabbutt  at his house in Plymouth. Graham is now into his eighties and still as keen about dogs as anyone I have ever met. He is an experienced assessor of dogs and used to be the Devon and Cornwall Police dog training officer many years ago. He assessed the A litter and so I wanted Graham to assess the B litter to maintain uniformity.

He originally assessed the A litter at our house where the pups were born but unfortunately  due to his wife’s health couldn’t get up to  our house to assess the B litter.  This meant having to drive my pups all the way to Plymouth. I prepared them by driving them into Headquarters each day for a week leading up to the assessment and letting them play and meet people at the Dog school.

Puppy  assessments are carried out when the pups are 7 weeks old. Scientists tell us that at this age the brains of the pups are fully formed and because they have had minimal environmental experiences this is the time to get an accurate picture of their genetic potential.

The assessment has to take place in a room where the pups have never been before and the assessor has to be someone who is unknown to the pups. The breeder carries a pup into the room and carefully places the pup on the floor in the middle of the room and then leaves. The assessor observes the pup and proceeds to assess how the pup behaves on 10 assessment areas.

For me the first part of the assessment where the pup is placed in a strange room is the most informative about the puppies temperament  because it shows how the puppy copes with being in a position of stress. Most pups initially stay where they are taking stock of the situation. We then record how quickly they venture forth to investigate the room and how they approach the assessor.

The pups are then assessed on how playful they are and how determined they are during the play. They are assessed on their initiative to investigate strange or unusual noises. We use a silent dog whistle and a toy Police siren. We can assess whether they are sensitive to sound or are affected by sound which is important for training.

They are assessed on how they react when restrained and how they cope with being placed on a high table for height sensitivity.  When the pups are 10 months old we assess them again along similar lines to compare both sets of tests and it gives us an indication as to how accurate the puppy tests were.

I am proud to say that the pups all assessed to a very high standard and Graham stated it was one of the best litters he has seen.
Bebe tugging on a small mouse on a line.

Shows Bebe challenging the dummy dog on a stick.

Bruno playing with a ball he has retrieved and about to acknowledge the dog whistle Graham is blowing

Buddy playing with a ball as Graham is
about to open an umbrella above him
Buddy not fazed and he promptly
attacks the umbrella
laid back Blade thinking about pouncing
on the moving mouse
Blade still laid back and unmoved by
the Police siren sounding.
Blade suddenly springing into action to grab
the moving dog
Boris chase the dog but still keeps the ball in
his mouth denoting a strong possessive streak
All the dogs together bouncing on the pigs ear.
This assessment is carried out after all the pups have completed their individual assessments. All the pups are brought in together and the pigs ear is thrown down on the floor. Usually the most dominant pup will grab the pigs ear and keep it from the rest. This pup is then removed and the pigs ear is then thrown in again to establish the next most dominant pup. This is continued until there is only one pup left which gives you the order of dominance in the group. Most unusually none of the pups took ownership of the pigs ear as they were all happy to share and have a bit each. Graham states he has never seen this happen in over 40 years assessing pups.

After all the pups left our house on the Saturday Bebe was a little quiet and obviously was missing her litter mates.
She is pictured here looking a little sad in my kitchen.
She wasn’t totally alone as her mum Molly was still here and it wasn’t long before they were both following me around and are pictured here patiently waiting for me to give them a bit of my apple. 
Apple please
Biscuit please
She learns very quickly and here she is after seeing me go to the biscuit barrel running and waiting in her cage where she sleeps and eats biscuits.

The following Tuesday it was off to the vets for her first inoculation. Note my vet always gives all of the Police pups titbits during examinations to prevent any negative association forming of the visit to the vet.
Bebe at the vets
I also encourage puppy walkers to call in and see the veterinary nurses and assistants just to visit and say hello and get their titbit even if they do not require treatment again to keep vet visits as a pleasant experience.

I have been around and seen all of the pups in their new homes and all seem very happy and settled.

All the B litter will be getting together for their first training and development session  on Sunday 2nd of Feb at Headquarters.
Unfortunately I some sad news to report in that Police dog Megan who only passed out as a Police dog in December 2013 has badly injured her eye whilst exercising off duty over the xmas period when she ran into a fence and the eye has had to be removed. She has recovered well but we have had to retire her from operational duty and she is now in a nice home with Hazel Jago in North Devon. Once she has fully settled I will visit and hopefully do a piece on Megan and her new family.

In addition a decision has also been made to retire one of our existing Police dogs Winnie who works in Newton Abbot. She hasn’t taken the transition to becoming a Police dog in her stride due to her gentle nature and she has also been found a nice home where she will be well looked after.
That means we now have 3 handlers needing new dogs which is very frustrating as we sold 2 very excellent dogs Tyson and Buddy to Derbyshire Police because we didn’t have enough handlers needing dogs to run a January course.

We currently have Jack the diamond eater who initially failed his courage test, Charlie who has had some dental issues but is now fit to work and we are now actively looking for a third dog for a new January course. We could use Betty who is on standby as a future brood bitch but we do not want to use her unless it is a last resort.

Well that brings you all up to date until next time when hopefully there is only good news to bring to you all.


Friday 10 January 2014

Devon & Cornwall Police introduce the latest litter pf puppies to Spotlight.

See the puppies at lunch and playing in the garden with mum.
Published by kind permission of Spotlight

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Diamond dog

One of our police puppies Jack decides to play with his puppy walkers jewellery. Footage courtesy of BBC Spotlight.

Video footage of the pups

Because we were unable to fix up a web cam showing the pups live I have put together 6 short film showing the pups and Molly during a typical day.

Here we are!

There is an introduction to the B litter in their living quarters and then some footage of them having their lunchtime meal. I then included some film of Molly relaxing on her own while the pups had an afternoon siesta. I have also included Molly outside with her pups for the first time together. I had to be careful because this was the first time Molly had seen the pups outside of their living quarters and I wasn’t too sure how Molly would react. There is always a danger she could collide with the pups whilst trying to round them up. As it happens she absolutely loved it and played with them.


I then included some footage of the pups playing together on their own and some footage of them crashing out at the end of the day.

"Need some me time if you know what I mean!"

Because of the Xmas period we have had very few visitors and even though I have been driving them to HQ each day there has been no one there to meet either. As a result I have cancelled their assessment which should have been on Tuesday to give them more socialisation meeting people at HQ now everyone is back off holiday.

Outside, its not raining!

I cannot emphasize enough how important early socialisation is to the puppies development. Because the A litter were born in the summer they spent all day every day outside and literally met over a hundred plus different people in the garden and so were bomb proof with people approaching and children running around screaming and shouting.

The puppies outside playing.


Today they met lots of people at HQ and coped very well. I intend to take them there each day and assess their potential with the puppy tests at the end of the week.

I will give you a full update on how the assessments went next week.

See you then

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Happy New Year from the B litter

Since my last update it has been a very busy and eventful Christmas and new year.  I held the last training session of the year for the A litter on Sunday 22 December at Exmouth college.

Unfortunately Annie couldn’t make it due to the weather.

Pictured above are the A litter minus Argo who arrived late due to me not including Lyn on my e- mail advising everyone of an earlier start. I promise to do better in 2014. Pictured on the far left with me is 3 month old Yogi who is our latest addition and he was totally unfazed by all the bigger dogs and looks a very good prospect.

We did some tracking training and introduced the dogs to person searching. Person searching is where the dog is sent to search for criminals or vulnerable missing persons and the dog will bark to notify the handler that he has found someone. This is introduced with the dog on a lead chasing the person ie the helper and the dog barks on reaching the helper and is rewarded with a toy.

Pictured above is Puppy walker Paul and his dog Arry looking very mature and impressive for a dog not quite 7 months old in the early stages of person searching.

We then held a fun competition on an indoor agility course incorporating various obstacles and ramps with penalties for missing obstacles or not completing them properly. It was a joint tie between Argo and Arry who both completed the course with no penalty points.

Over the Xmas period Argo sliced his pad which required stitching and the need to wear an Elizabethan collar to stop him pulling off his dressing. I am not sure from the picture of Argo whether he is depressed or is deep in thought as to how he is going to get the dressing off.

While we were training at Exmouth I was rung by Angie Collins who is puppy walking Jack a 20 month old German Shepherd ( pictured here with my daughters Cocker spaniel) to inform me that Jack had just swallowed a very expensive £18000 diamond from a diamond ring off her dresser. I wished her luck in her task which was to sieve Jacks Poo’s until it resurfaced.

I received a text from Angie on Christmas day to say the diamond had duly arrived in his latest Poo. For the full story visit the BBC news Dog swallows £18,000 wedding ring.

Xmas at our house with the B litter was hectic mainly because of the atrocious weather meant we couldn’t get them outside and had to give them the run of the house to give them something to do.

 They are pictured here being supervised by mum Molly on Christmas morning.

At 1pm  the pups decided it was time to come over the lower board to have their Xmas lunch. 

The pictures above shows them having Xmas lunch in 2 sittings.

They finally ventured out of the house on Friday 27 Dec and they are pictured here stopping at the steps deciding whether it was safe to proceed further.

Finally at the end of the day getting ready for lights out can you spot all 8 pairs of eyes. 

At last they have finally crashed out and I am off to bed see you guys in the morning.