Friday 21 August 2015

More bad news means we have had to put Comet and Chaos on emergency standby for the September 2015 inial police dog course. Also in blog Carlo arrives from Germany

Comet and Chaos "Yep we are ready, what do you want us to do?"
Carlo "You know what they say about big ears!"
Receiving the news 2 weeks ago that Gizzy

had failed his hip x rays and couldn’t take his place on the September Initial Police dog course was bad enough but we have now learned that his brother Duke
has also  failed his hip x rays and so he cannot not take his place on the course either.  I have never had 2 dogs fail their hip x rays on a course in 20 years of being involved in the puppy program.
I had been very excited about going over to Germany to collect our new puppy Carlo last week but the news about Gizzy and Duke has left me thoroughly demoralised and feeling very despondent knowing how much effort and dedication had been put in by our puppy walkers Annie Miller and Lyn Parlour.
Both dogs have been found excellent new homes and will no doubt have a wonderful life ahead of them but that doesn’t make it any less painful for the puppy walkers and in Gizzy’s case his handler Lee Adamson who had taken possession of Gizzy from Annie months ago to prepare for the course. It was especially sad for Annie because she also puppy walked Lee’s first Police dog Vinny.
Finding replacement dogs for our handlers on the September 2015 Initial Police dog course was now the priority with time running out.
I contacted friends and contacts of mine in Germany to see if there was any possibility of any Potential Police dogs over there that might be available. They very kindly advertised our plight and found several young dogs that they thought might be suitable.
Unfortunately having assessed them I found that they didn’t have the necessary determination and enthusiasm that I needed and so I came away empty handed.
I did however come away with Carlo who I had purchased from a very well known breeder in Germany. I had seen he was available over 2 months ago and I had been attracted by his incredible family tree which had produced many very famous tracking dogs. He was the last remaining pup in the litter and so it was a big gamble on my part that he would be suitable.
I had a contact in Belgium who had seen the litter and had purchased a puppy from the litter. He told me he thought that Carlo was a good puppy. I purchased him in the hope that he will bring his tracking genes to our puppy program in Devon and Cornwall.
Unfortunately with the rabies rules a puppy cannot be brought over from the continent until they are 16 weeks old having had their rabies inoculation. Most breeders do not have the time to provide the socialisation that the pup needs in the critical period between 8 and 14 weeks so they come over already slightly handicapped in terms of their development.
I remember last year when I imported Qwendi she needed at least 3 months to catch up the socialisation she had missed and that was only achieved because she had a strong character.
I am hoping that with lots of extra socialisation work I can get Carlo to the best possible level of confidence with environmental situations that I can. If I can get him to the level I would like I will then put him into the Devon and Cornwall Police program for allocation to a handler and hopefully make use of his excellent tracking genes by mating him to one of our girls Qwendi or Ruby.
We arrived back on Friday last week and I have wasted no time in getting him out and about. He is pictured here meeting the cows next to where I live.

"uhmm... we have cows!"
Then it was off to the city centre.

Tuesday into vehicle workshops.

I have also introduced him to tracking and as you can see from this short video

He is a natural tracking dog.
I must confess returning from Germany with no replacement dogs for Duke and Gizzy I was very disheartened. However  my spirits were lifted when I was contacted during the week by handlers Mandy from Avon and Somerset, Mark Stevens and Lee Crampton with our A litter dogs Argo, Axel and Annie to tell me about excellent results they had just had which spurred me on.
With no immediate replacements for Gizzy and Duke I held an emergency training assessment session on Monday this week with Chaos and Comet from our C litter. This was to see if they were at a level where they could be brought forward from January 2016 to the September 2015 course.
It is not ideal as they will only be 11 months old starting the course and whilst we will obviously keep agility exercises and impact work to a minimum they are still mentally immature. We did it successfully with Arry and Axel from our A litter but the handlers still have to manage them very carefully for their first 12 months of operational duty.
I chose Chaos and Comet because they are more advanced than their siblings Charlie and Cosmic and both showed me that in terms of attitude, determination and enthusiasm they would have no difficulty doing the course.
Here are a few pictures of them going through their exercises.
Luke and Chaos showing their tracking skills.

Chaos plays with his ball having tracked to it.
Dawn showing Comet can track just as well as the best of them.
Chaos searching for a hidden mobile phone.
Chaos posing for the camera.
 Chaos getting down to serious business.
Comet showing he is no slouch when it comes to the serious stuff.
Comet about to strike.
Comet barking at the strange looking man he has found.
Chaos shows he can be just as scary as Comet.
What are we doing next we are still full of energy (Comet and Chaos are thinking below).
Dawn and Comet
Colin and Chaos.
Finally my bad lucked continued when Ruby came in season and we tried for a mating with Police dog Logan. Unfortunately Logan’s inexperience didn’t impress Ruby and she decided she had waited around long enough before she sent him packing.  Here is Ruby taking a dip in the river after their unsuccessful encounter.
I must confess I felt sympathy for Logan’s handler Steve who looked disappointed in Logan’s performance. I tried to soften the blow to masculine pride by my sympathetic comment ‘Steve, it can happen to the most masculine of males’ but I don’t think Steve was soothed by my attempt to boost his ego. So here is a picture of Steve and Logan at the Devon county show looking very masculine indeed.
As I write this Blog I am still searching and contacting everyone that I know to try and acquire 2 adult dogs for the September course to save having to use Comet and Chaos. In my next blog I will update you about how successful I have been and there will be an update on how Billy, Flynn, Memphis, Rika and new addition Carlo get on in their training session and a visit to the city centre.

See you next time.

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Devastating news about police pup Gizzy (Zak) and my last training session before my visit to Germany next week

Police puppy dog gizzy sitting on grass
--> Police pup Gizzy
Our 3 litter brothers Elvis, Duke and Gizzy all had their hips x-rayed this week prior to starting their initial police dog course in September this year. Duke has been allocated to Susan Hillier from Dorset police, Elvis has been allocated to Amanda Swain from Cornwall and Gizzy (renamed Zak) had been with his new handler Lee Adamson from North Devon for 5 months already.

Unfortunately Gizzy failed his hip x-rays and has had to be rehomed and released from the program. I had been so impressed with Gizzy that I had earmarked him as a future stud dog, which sadly will not now happen.

Lee is obviously devastated and on Friday took him to his new home in Oxfordshire. He has already settled in with several acres of land and a large pond to give him plenty of exercise.

It is now my responsibility to find Lee a new dog and if I am not able to do that I will have to allocate him our brood bitch Bebe who I have no doubt will make an outstanding police dog.

Black police puppy bebe in garden

I had arranged to go to Germany next week to collect a dog for our 4th handler on the course Chris Curnow who works Ashburton. I will now be looking at several other dogs in Germany because I do not want to have to use Bebe unless I can avoid it. Here is a short video of Bebe in the river in Plymouth 2 weeks ago.

On Sunday I took my last puppy class with Rika, Memphis and Flynn before my trip to Germany.

they are all progressing really well. This week we did some more article searching, tracking, puppy obedience and puppy agility. Pictured in the middle is Flynn with Nigel and Sue who are very kindly looking after him while his puppy walkers are away on holiday.

It was a really warm day and so we kept in the shade and kept it short. Foolishly I decided to lie on my back to get a picture of Rika coming down one of the ramps and as she hurtled towards my crown jewels I realised that Rob was in no hurry to stop this collision from occurring.

Here are some more photos of the session.

Phil showing his customary proud dad look with Memphis performing a perfect sit and down.

Rob looking like he is giving Rika a telling off but getting a lovely attentive sit from Rika and rewarding a nice down.

Here is Flynn giving me a lovely down position.

Nigel working Flynn nicely down the ramp.

Rika is pictured here showing exceptional concentration and determination on her tracking exercise.

We then did some puppy tugging in the dog school with a soft cuddly toy on a rope. This was to work on the leave on command, which is a very important exercise for a police dog.

All the dogs performed this beautifully. Here is Rob demonstrating a perfect leave with Rika and she is immediately rewarded, by allowing the game to resume.

Rob and Rikka playing games

I’ve included 2 photos I took which just show the affinity the handlers have for their dogs.

Puppy walker and puppy hugging after some training

puppy walker on the floor hugging puppy, puppy wagging tail

 then it was time for one more photo before we went for a debrief and coffee.

Group photo of puppy walkers and puppies

When you consider that these pups have over a year before they are allocated to their handlers and I am very excited at the standard they could achieve.

Over exercising young German shepherd dogs should be avoided

Margaret McCoubrey who follows us on Twitter quite rightly raised the issue of it not being a good thing for young German shepherd dogs to be taking part in agility. We whole-heartedly endorse that opinion and even on our initial police dog courses we would not advocate doing the full heights and jumps until they are 18 months old.

We find that ramps and tunnels as long as they are properly controlled do develop confidence building and problem solving skills in the young pups. They are just a small part of the on-going development involved in introducing the pups to lots of new situations and experiences.

Here a few photos of a very young Yogi tackling the low walkway with no difficulty this is something the older dogs have difficulty with if not introduced at an early age because it is much easier when they are smaller and have no fear.

The young German shepherd skeleton is very delicate and so long walks or romping with other dogs is not allowed or encouraged. Indeed we do not allow our pups to go into homes where there are other dogs unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Lots of regular one on one play sessions to develop the bond and build trust are encouraged and lots of visits to as many different locations and places as possible. There is no need to take young dogs on long walks.

I will be reporting back on my Germany trip on my return. Billy has gone to stay with police sergeant Steve Walker and his family in Plymouth while I am away. They are interested in becoming puppy walkers and this is great opportunity to see how they get on.

I thought I would finish by showing you are short video of Billy who I introduced to the paddling pool at the weekend. As cute as he is you can see he quickly decided he owned it and tried to keep Qwendi out of it. The evidence is there for all to see a natural police dog in the making but discipline and control will need to be maintained to prevent him from getting into trouble in the future (bless him).

See you next time from Qwendi and I.