Monday 23 March 2015

All change on the current initial Police Dog course as sadly Beau has been released from the programme and Darryl is reallocated Boris

Darryl relaxing with Boris after a successful track
We are just over half way through the 13 week Initial Police dog course but sadly we have had to release Police puppy Beau from the course as she suddenly developed a phobia for shiny floor surfaces and was a little sensitive on the crowd disorder exercises. I was devastated for Darryl and his family who have raised her since she was a puppy getting her ready to take over from his Police dog Murphy who has just retired.

This phobia for shiny floor surfaces is truly a very strange phenomenon because it never seems to materialise until a dog is over 12 months of age. As a puppy Beau was fine on all of the floors she now has a problem with.

I have re-homed Beau with a lovely couple Phil and Shiela Handley from Nottingham who recently lost their 10 year old German Shepherd to Pancreatic cancer. They had been in touch with my old friend Graham Mabbutt looking for a replacement dog  and once I learned about the way they had loved and cared for their old German Shepherd I knew that they were right for Bo and that they would be the type of people who would keep in touch with Darryl and his family.

I was particularly impressed with their response when their old Shepherd lost the use of her back legs with CDRM 2 years before she died. They fitted her with a harness and wheels to support her back end which gave her another 2 excellent further years before she eventually succumbed to Pancreatic cancer.  There will no doubt be those who would disagree with replacing a dogs back legs with wheels arguing that it is not dignified but Phil assures me she had a fantastic quality of life in her final 2 years because of the harness and wheels.

Darryl has now been allocated Boris who was our spare dog and the two of them are getting on like a house on fire. Boris is a lovely dog and was only the spare dog because of circumstances and not because of any lesser ability than the rest of the group.
Beau with Phil and Shiela
Beau with Phil and Shiela when they collected her from us several weeks ago. She has settled in well and they are enjoying her particularly Phil who loves walking with his dog.
Phil and Shiela with their old dog Sommer
All of the teams are going well with 6 weeks to go before we are assessed by the Metropolitan Police dog section assessor.
From left to right are Darryl and Boris, Mike and Blade, Rachael and Buddy, Stuart and Yogi.
Boris, Blade and Buddy are from our B litter and Yogi we acquired as a young puppy for our puppy programme from Dave Femor in Dover who bred him.

Hopefully all of the dog teams will successfully complete the course but it always pays to have a plan B as we have seen with Beau. For this reason I have been having Bebe our future brood bitch from the B litter in for training just in case we need her on the course. Hopefully that will not be the case. Here she is arriving on the train with her puppy walker Chris who works next to our Headquarters complex. As you can see she is pleased to see me and to come for her training.
Chris and Bebe
The Initial Police dog course is a very intensive course because we have so many areas to cover and
skills to teach the dogs and in the case of the new handlers the handlers as well. We teach the dogs to follow the trail left by a human being which we call tracking. We teach the dogs to search for outstanding criminals and missing persons and to alert the handler when they find them by barking. We teach the dogs to detain fleeing and violent criminals by biting and holding them by their right arm which prevents their escape and prevents them from attacking the handler.

We teach the dogs to disperse violent and disorderly crowds. We teach them to search for outstanding or discarded stolen property or lost property. We call this article searching. We also teach them how to negotiate obstacles such as fences or walls and we teach them obedience exercises.

The obedience exercises are very important because by listening to their handlers instructions it might one day save the dogs life particularly if he is running towards a busy main road or a criminal pulls out a gun or bladed weapon the handler might want to call him back urgently.

We do a lot of obedience work and we like the dogs to get used to working in close proximity to each other as it makes them more efficient to be able to work closely with other Police dogs.

The above show the dog teams working on group obedience and also show Rachael and Buddy doing individual heelwork. Buddy has been quite difficult on heelwork as for some reason he does not like being walked on a lead. We have improved this using a clicker and food titbits.

Tracking is without doubt the most important and most widely used task for our Police dogs. I would estimate that tracking accounts for over 90% of our work. Our operational colleagues call us to crime scenes where the offender has made off or a vunerable missing person has gone off and we are required to find these people by tracking or ascertain the direction they have gone in.

Here are some pictures of our trainee dogs taking part in tracking exercises where the team are shown the last location a person has been sighted and the team are expected to locate them.
Blade tracking across tarmac
Boris locating Rachael hiding on top of shelving in a building
The below are some pictures of the dog teams learning to negotiate obstacles.

Here are some pictures of the dogs favourite exercise biting the criminal.

Property searching or article searching is also very important because if a criminal discards an article having touched it we are likely to be able to obtain DNA from the article.
Boris finds a phone hidden under leaves
Yogi locating a knife hidden in long grass
Blade is more than a match for a disorderly and rowdy crowd
Away from the action every day our handlers groom their dogs to keep their coats clean and free from parasites and to check their general health all over. Here is Mike giving Blade the once over.
Grooming also helps with the bonding process
During the course our puppy walkers are encouraged to spend the day with us to see how their dogs are progressing and working before they see them graduate on the passing out parade at the end of the course.
Lin and her daughter with Boris on the left and Emma on the right with Blade
Phil Rooks and his family with Boris as they also looked after him after Lin
Yogi with his puppy walkers Terry and Jill
Anthony and Lindsay with their dog Buddy
I think that everyone loved their day and I know the dogs did.
Bruno from the B litter with his handler Lenny from Gloucester Police dog section
Bruno and Lenny are on their Initial Police dog course in Gloucester which is 1 week ahead of ours. Lenny is delighted with Bruno who is doing really well.

I am sure a lot of you are wondering how Brodie from the B litter is getting on after his hip replacement 6 weeks ago.  Mike his puppy walker states he is running around like a young puppy with a new lease of life.  He is due to go back for his second operation to replace his other hip on the 30th of March. We wish him the best of luck. We are extremely grateful to Mike and his family for their patience and full time care that they are providing for Brodie.

Tomorrow I am out with the C litter getting ready for our appearance at the county show in May and I will update you all on how they are getting on this week.

Finally here are the course signing off and hopefully when I next report on them they will all be licensed Police dogs on their passing out parade.

See you soon from Paul and Qwendi.