Wednesday 28 May 2014

The B Litter Visit The Devon County Show To Watch Their Mum Molly and The Police Dogs Put On A Display

Several months ago the Chief Constable asked the dog section to put on a Police dog display for the Devon County show. In years gone by when we had our own Police dog display team we used to perform at all the big shows in Devon and Cornwall but it was disbanded because it became impossible to get handlers to meet on a regular basis to practise and prepare due to the ever increasing operational demands.

We were happy to take part because we love doing displays and it was nice to give something back to Westpoint who allow us to use their facilities to train our Police dogs on a daily basis. PC Ali Cruwys a Police dog handler based in Exeter volunteered to organise the training and put the display together. We also decided that as all of the dogs within force now come from our puppy programme we would include one of our brood bitches Molly and her litter of 6 month old pups.

Lots of volunteer handlers came forward but as the show got nearer and nearer a number dropped out for a variety of reasons. The remaining handlers experienced numerous interruptions to their preparations such as court appearances and operational commitments. But as has always been the case the remaining handlers gave up a lot of their own time to prepare and by the 1st day of the show on Thursday 22nd of May we were ready to go.

The team are seen here arriving to prepare for the first of 5 displays over the 3 days. Exeter dog section our organiser and trainer with criminals Hugh Watson Force dog trainer at HQ and PC Lee Crampton Exeter dog section.

From left to right are PC Steve Cruwys and Police dog Logan based at Exeter, PC Vikki Ritchie and Police dog Jasper based at Newton Abbott and PC Andy Darbey with Police dog Sally also based at Newton Abbott. Behind the dog teams are PC Ali Cruwys

Watching them enter the Showground together made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and made me very proud at how relaxed and professional they looked. To walk a group of Police dogs into an area packed with so many people, livestock and numerous pet dogs in such a calm and controlled manner doesn’t just happen by accident.

It is the result of a breeding programme producing dogs of excellent temperament, puppy walkers who have spent many hours of their own time socialising their pups and dedicated dog handlers who have spent many hours performing high visibility foot patrols in busy urban areas preparing their dogs for all eventualities.

Pictured here is Molly and her pups Bebe, Beckie and Boris soaking up the atmosphere at the show with a gun dog display going on in the arena behind them.

The format for our display began with the Police dog teams and Mollie and her pups being introduced to the crowd in the arena. Molly then gave a demonstration of nose work where she had to find a one pence piece hidden in the grass.

She then had to demonstrate control and responsiveness by recalling immediately from a ball she was chasing and finally courage as she tackled an aggressive criminal.

Although Molly isn’t a licensed Police dog we included Molly to demonstrate how in many ways the brood bitch needs to be of outstanding ability and temperament because she passes her genes on to her pups and they are influenced by her character, confidence and calmness.

The rain was appalling for the morning display. Pictured here are the team waiting to go into the Arena in the pouring rain with Puppy walker Colin and Police pup Beckie watching on.

016 PC Vikki Ritchie was the first Police dog to perform giving an excellent display of heelwork and agility. She is pictured here doing an excellent round of heelwork with Police dog Jasper showing real attentiveness despite the conditions.

Next on was PC Steve Cruwys with Police dog Logan dealing with 2 very unruly criminals who came off second best. A stretcher was brought on for one of the criminals but Logan decided he had earned the right to be transported off on the stretcher leaving the injured criminal to make his own way out of the arena.

The final Police dog on was PC Andy Darby with Police dog Sally who gave a demonstration of courage in dealing with a criminal firing a gun. Operationally it is highly unlikely that a Police dog would ever be sent to disarm a criminal firing a gun but we need to train for all eventualities. After disarming the criminal Sally retains her grip until her handler calls her off.

Prior to our dogs going into the Display Arena there had been a gun dog display, a sheep dog herding geese and a pack of young hunt hounds having food thrown on the ground for them. The fact that our dogs were still able to put on the excellent display that they did without being distracted was very impressive. I am obviously biased but I thought Molly having to search amongst all those smells for a 1 pence piece was exceptional.

What was also exceptional was PC Vikki Ritchie and Jasper coping with all what was going on considering they only finished their Initial Police dog course in December last year.

Fortunately the weather improved and here are the Police dogs looking dryer and happier.

Finally here they are leaving the show ground at the end of a long, successful and enjoyable day. Once again showing how professional they are and an excellent advert for the Devon and Cornwall force.

Here is a collection of photos of Molly and her pups taken throughout the day. Boris on the table saying hello to everyone.

Colin and Beckie braving the elements. 

Boris on his beloved table again. 

Molly, Bebe and Boris watching the Morris dancers perform.

Day 2 started the same as the first day with pouring rain drenching all of us on the morning display and putting a dampener on our Royal visitor Prince Michael of Kent. He is pictured here meeting Police dog Jasper and Vikki.

Here is a collection of Fridays photo’s. Bruno, Molly, Boris and Buddy meeting up for the day.

Boris and Bruno meet the army. 

Boris, Buddy and Bruno set off to explore. 

Buddy sees an interesting individual. 

Buddy and Bruno decide to investigate. 

Buddy makes a new Pal. 

Boris back on his table with his buddies. 

Everyone still in high spirits. 

Joining the whole cast for a group photo. 

Buddy looking very contented at the end of a great day and about to go home. 

Day 3 Cancelled. We were all gutted as we had planned a real family day as all children had free entry. Emma with Blade and Darryl with Beau were very disappointed to miss out. Emma decided to still give Blade and her boys a day to remember and took them off to The Decoy Country Park in Teignbridge for a day of adventure. Blade is pictured here at the start of the day.

 Paul I found the stick Emma didn’t throw it honest. 

See you all next time. Paul.

Monday 19 May 2014

An update on how the initial Police dog course is progressing and how Grommit got on with his suitability assessment to be a police dog

When I last updated you on the progress of the Initial Police dog course in April Police pup Jack had completed week 8, Police pup Charlie had completed week 5 and Police pup Arry had just been drafted in to start the course.

I am pleased to tell you that Police puppy Jack and his handler Phil Wilson successfully passed their Initial Police dog course assessment last week and are now a fully licensed Police dog team who will be working in Exeter.

Also we have now been joined on the course by Police puppy Axel and his new handler PC Mark Stevens. Unfortunately Marks previous dog had to be retired prematurely as he wasn’t adapting to the role of a Police dog.

The course  pictured above from left to right are Mark and Axel who have now completed 2 weeks of training, Carla and Arry  have completed 6 weeks of training  and Simon and Charlie  have completed 12 weeks and will be undergoing their final assessment next week. Pictured on the end is Phil and Jack who joined us for the day.

I am so pleased for Jack who already seems to have been on such a long journey. He had to have surgery on an overshot jaw as a puppy, then he had a period of lameness, then he decided to swallow an £18000 diamond belonging to his puppy walker which he passed naturally a week later and the story was covered by BBC spotlight and features on a previous blog.

Jack and Phil
Even on the day he came out with us for some training Jack stubbed his toe and is pictured here with Phil examining him to see the extent of his injury. Note how happy he is to be constricted and examined showing what a wonderful temperament he has and trust in his handler.

Jack is pictured here with his handler Phil having passed his assessment

For those of you who follow the blog you will know that Axel and Arry are from our A litter which are the first pups bred by our force. At 11 months of age they are still very young and so they will be taken along very gradually and will not be rushed.

I thought it would be impossible to top all the marvelous times I had with my old Police dog Spud and the success we had in the dog trials but having bred the A litter at my home and now training them with their new handlers certainly comes close.

Axel, Arry and Charlie are all pictured here this week enjoying their criminal work exercises in the glorious sunshine. Everyone getting ready for the action,
Arry about to pounce
Axel gets a grip
Mark finding something amusing which is usually Simon falling over!
Charlie pursuing me and standing off and barking as he is trained to do as I give myself up.
'Wot toy - no watch wallet!'
My favourite picture is Arry searching for outstanding property and locating a wallet on top of a wall and indicating it to his handler Carla without touching it. This is important as we can get DNA from just about anything touched by an offender and it is important the dog does not interfere with property he/she finds. As he freezes on the wallet you can see his toy reward coming over to reward him.

It was also a pleasure to have Charlie’s puppy walker Diane come out with us for the day to see how he is getting on with his training.
Diane, Simon and Charlie are pictured here together.

How Grommit got on with his suitability assessment to be a police dog

During the week we also had Police pup Grommit out with us for his final assessment as to his suitability to be a Police dog. He underwent exactly the same assessment that the A litter had gone through several weeks ago.

I am pleased to say that Grommit passed all of the assessments and will now be available to be allocated to a new handler for our forthcoming initial Police dog course in September this year.
Grommit searching for property which has been hidden
Grommit is pictured here searching for property which has been hidden.
'Found it!'
He quickly locates the purse and is pictured here proudly carrying his trophy.
'Let me go then'
Grommit is pictured here showing his keenness to engage with the criminal wearing a protective sleeve.
'Told you I'd get it'
He is then pictured having won the sleeve from the criminal.

'Wolf man yer right'
It was then on to the courage test where that horrible man wearing a wolf mask jumped out on him. Grommit is shown here standing his ground and not running away.
'I knew it wasn't really a wolf man'
Once the wolf man removes his mask Grommit completely recovers and goes over to investigate which was an excellent reaction for a 10 month old dog.

I get asked a lot as to whether this test is a bit too much for such a young dog. The answer is we are not expecting a young dog to deal with the situation the same way that a fully mature dog would. We are happy at this age as long as the dog doesn’t take off with his tail between his legs and more importantly recovers his composure once the offender takes off his mask and the handler goes over to talk to the man.

Grommit assessed as a very lively energetic young dog and was very confident in all situations. He is a very athletic and determined dog who loves to play and work. He was a little stressed being in the kennels and away from his puppy walkers for the first time but settled down after the first night on his own. He looks an excellent prospect and we are extremely grateful to his puppy walkers Phil and Mel Rooks in Plymouth who have done an excellent job of looking after him.

'Yep this is me, Mr confidence looking very handsome, if I do say so myself!'
He is pictured here as he is now
'Ain't I cute, with my floppy ear!'
and as a tiny pup.

Finally where I walk my dogs each day in Killerton I look forward to the same pair of Canadian geese who come to the lake to mate and raise their young every year. I have seen one goose every day for the last few weeks on its own and guessed the other was on the nest. Sure enough this week here they are caught on my camera making their way across the lake.

Nothing to do with dogs but once again demonstrating the wonders of nature and whetting my appetite for our C litter in the autumn.

This week I will be at the Devon county show in Westpoint with my brood bitch Molly and some of her pups joining our Police dog display team who are putting on 2 displays each day. If I don’t see you there I will report on how it all went in my next blog.

Bye for now Paul