Friday 18 September 2015

A busy week with the start of the initial police dog course, the introduction of 4 new puppies and our September 2015 Course puppies pay a visit to the Farm

On Monday 7th September 2015 the General Purpose Initial Police Dog course commenced with the dog teams pictured above. From Left to right are Amanda with Elvis, Sue with Bebe, Graham with Harry, and Lee with Daz.  Graham is also the course instructor whilst at the same time is training Harry who he puppy walked. Should Harry be successful he will be allocated to his new handler Chris Curnow who is unable to attend the course because of other commitments.
AMANDA AND JET ( pictured above ) Amanda is a first time handler who has been trying to get onto the dog section for some time and has finally realised her ambitions and is pictured here with her new dog Jet ( Formerly Elvis) She will be serving with Jet in Camborne. Jet was puppy walked by Susannah Coffin and her husband Kevin. He is from our puppy program and was bred by one of our breeders John Smith of Limasmythe German shepherds.
SUE AND BEBE ( pictured above ) Sue is an experienced handler from Dorset dog section whose last dog Monty came from our puppy scheme and has been very successful. Sue will be serving in Dorset with her new dog Bebe who is from our B litter.

We had intended to use Bebe as a future brood bitch but decided against that because her litter brother Brodie was born with very bad hips. Bebe herself has excellent hips. Bebe was puppy walked by Chris and Donna Highton and their boys Tom and Jake. Tom recently celebrated graduating as a Police officer in Avon and Somerset and so we are hoping that Bebe can make it a Police double.
GRAHAM AND HARRY (pictured above ) Graham is our course instructor and is taking his first General Purpose Initial Police dog course. He is also going to be handling and training Harry who he has puppy walked with his family.  Harry is from our puppy program and was bred by another of our breeders Tony Cronin Rafpol German shepherds in Bridgend.

As mentioned above should Harry pass the course he will be allocated to his new handler Chris Curnow who is unable to attend the course because of other commitments and they will complete a short re-handling course before being posted to Ashburton.
LEE AND DAZ (pictured above) Lee is an experienced handler who works in North Devon. His current dog Vinny has been a very successful general purpose police dog and is also a drug search dog. Vinny will continue to work as a drugs dog. Daz is a 2 year old dog recently imported from Holland by Tony Cronin.

So there you have it all the runners and riders and as the course progresses I will keep you up to date as to how they are all getting on. I went out with the course on Wednesday last week 3 days into the course and they all looked to be doing very well.

For those of you new to the blog or who do not know about police dogs the course that the dogs will be undergoing is a 13 week course and is called a General Purpose Police Dog course. The teams will be trained to track and search for criminals who have made off from the scene of a crime, track and search for missing vunerable persons, deal with violent criminals and disorderly crowds, develop their obedience, control and agility, search for outstanding items of property and perform high visibility reassurance foot patrols.

Here are a few pictures I took on my day with the course.

The above shows how powerful these dogs are when tracking after an offender who has made off. You can see Amanda hanging on with all of her strength.
The above shows Bebe tracking with Sue notice the low nose and total concentration from Bebe as she hunts down her Quarry.
The above shows Graham doing an impression of Usain Bolt about to sprint past Harry for some reason.
The above shows Graham about to lay a trail for one of the dogs and seems to be doing a very good impression of a German goose step as he does it.
The above shows Sue and Bebe starting to develop their sit and focus work at the beginning of their obedience training. I like Graham’s idea of using the wooden wall to prevent a crooked sit.
The above shows Daz already giving Lee a lovely focus look with Lee encouraging him nicely.
The above shows Harry barking to tell his handler Graham that he has found the criminal on a person search.
The above shows Harry barking to tell his handler Graham that he has found the criminal on a person search.
The above shows Bebe already showing she has a very determined attack if required.

Our experience with German Shepherds and Malinois cross bred dogs

With our puppy program we are able to obtain and provide enough German Shepherd dogs for all of our general purpose police dog handlers. We have tried other breeds in particular the Malinois who is a very athletic hardy determined breed but we have concluded that the German Shepherd is the best breed for us.

Having said that a lot of forces use the Malinois because of their very robust and athletic build. They do not tend to have the same health issues as the German shepherd.  In Devon and Cornwall because most of our work is tracking after offenders and because we have found the German Shepherd to be the better operational dog for that kind of work we have stuck with the German Shepherd.

However several forces have had success with crossing the German shepherd with the Malinois and when I heard about a litter of German Shepherd cross Malinois pups in Gloucestershire I decided to go and take a look.

Pictured above is the breeder Drew taking his litter of 10 pups aged 7 weeks old pups out for a walk in his fields.
Shark and Dragon I ask you, do I live in the sea and can he breath fire?
I spent time watching and working with the Father a Belgian Malinois called Dragon and the mother a German Shepherd bitch called Shark and I was very impressed with both dogs who have worked with Drew on poaching patrols in South Africa.

I assessed the litter of 10 pups and selected 2 males which I brought back to our house last Thursday where they were collected by their new puppy walkers Eamon Rogers and his daughter Jessica and Chris Highton and his wife Donna and son Tom.
Eamon pictured above on the left with Jessica has named his pup Dexter and Chris, Tom and Donna on the right have named their pup Riggs.

We had some time enjoying them in the garden.
Hi, I'm Riggs and it wasn't me ok?

Hi, I'm Dexter. I didn't honest!
Phew, think we got away with that.
Being cute is exhausting

I was so impressed with the 2 pups that I rang Drew to enquire about the availability of 2 more pups from the litter. Having told him which 2 I would like I met him after our puppy class on Sunday and collected 2 more boys.

It was back to our house again to meet their new puppy walkers Angie and Graham Collins and Susannah Coffin.
Cold, wet, thought the weather down here was supposed to be better!
Unfortunately the weather was atrocious and so we were only able to take a quick photo of the drowned walkers and the shivering pups. Susannah on the left with Cato and Graham on the right with Reggie
The above shows the boys having a quick play before going to their new homes.

Sunday 13 September 2015, Memphis, Flynn, Rika, Billy and Lenny all venture down to Saundercroft farm

One of my favourite visits with the pups is our day out at Saundercroft farm to meet and socialise with all of the animals. We all met at HQ Middlemoor at 11am where we got all of our 5 pups out on the sports field to get them all to relax and be comfortable with each other and to iron out any spats or arguments before going off to the farm.
On arrival everyone was keen to get going to our first port of call the sheep.

As always on seeing the sheep one or two were not too sure barking and showing hackles but after being rewarded for sitting with titbits the pups became bored and got used to the sheep. It also helps when one of the sheep has been hand reared and thinks he is a person and is not afraid of the dogs. That sheep is called ‘AL’

Al is the all white sheep next to Andi in the above picture.
Next it was off to the calves in the stables and what was interesting was that the dogs were more unsure of the calves than they were with the cows.

Next it was time to meet Jack the pony and all the dogs enjoyed meeting him particularly Lenny.
Everyone then met the cows and no-one seemed at all worried by the cows.

Video: We have cows!

Next we met some of the horses.

Finally everyones favourite the chickens which Billy seemed more excited than anyone to meet.
Chickens, uhmmm. Chicken pie or chicken burger?
Ohh, they've still got their feathers on!

Could I...?

No... they're funny things really, walking on two legs and their heads jerking to and fro
Then at the end of a really enjoyable day we all got together for a group photo including Al the sheep and Jack the pony.

My thanks to Andi and Simon for allowing us to come to the farm and for helping us to introduce the dogs to the animals.

Socialising and being at ease in and around the animals is very important not just because it makes the dogs better and more well behaved members of society but it also means when working as Police dogs they are not distracted when tracking and searching across fields where there are livestock.

So there you have it an action packed couple of weeks.  I am now off for a week’s holiday after instructing on the police dog refresher course all this week.
From Qwendi, Lenny and me see you next time. Paul.

Friday 4 September 2015

Memphis, Lenny, Rika, Flynn and Billy head off to the city centre and the C litter stay together.

On Sunday I introduced our new male puppy Lenny who we imported from Germany to the rest of his intake at our puppy class. We started with our tracking training at HQ Middlemoor then it was off to Exeter city centre for some group socialisation.

I imported Lenny because of his excellent tracking lines which go back generations and I am hoping we will be able to use him at stud to pass those qualities on to future Police dogs.
Who me? What qualities? Tracking not sure, but listening yep I'm your pup!
We are all pictured here from left to right Memphis, Lenny, Rika, Flynn and Billy in Exeter city centre.

Billy is now with his new puppy walkers Sue and Nigel.

After some early jousting and attempts to dominate each other all the pups settled down and were all very confident with all the crowds and general noise of the city centre.

Billy is pictured here with Sue and Nigel keenly watching some pigeons in the distance.
uhmm, pigeon pie

The below shows Rika with Rob and the family walking through the precinct over some very shiny floor surfaces.

The below shows Rika watching young Freddie demonstrate his dancing skills but clearly didn’t think he was likely to win the dance off.
Ok, ok not bad, I would show you my moves but...
Below shows Andy and the family with Flynn fresh from their holiday. We are very grateful to Nigel and Sue (who now have Billy) for looking after Flynn while they were away.
And to completely disappear I just pull in my tongue, its magic!
Below shows Diane and her son Andrew sheltering from the rain with Memphis.
Pull in the tongue, you say...
Thanks go out to Diane for looking after Memphis for a couple of weeks while his puppy walkers are also away on holiday. We do not like to put our young dogs in kennels when their puppy walkers are away and we are very fortunate to have volunteers who look after them for us for short periods.

Despite the rain it was a very successful and enjoyable visit and we next meet in 2 weeks time for our visit to the farm.

C litter news

The C litter will now remain together until their Police dog course in January 2016 as planned.

In my last blog I informed you that as a result of Gizzy and Duke failing their hip X rays we were probably going to have to split the C litter and use Comet and Chaos on our September 2015 course starting next week Monday.

Although I knew that Comet and Chaos would cope with the course I did not want to use such young dogs and I have been working hard to find older replacements which included a fruitless visit to Germany to look at 2 potential dogs.

Fortunately Tony Cronin of Rafpol German shepherds in Bridgend (who has previously provided us with Shadow who is now an operational Police dog in Camborne and current pups Harry, Rika, Memphis and Flynn) was aware how hard I have been working to find replacements for Gizzy and Duke and kindly agreed to allow one of his 2 stud dogs to come to us for the course.

I will introduce him to you next week with the other dogs when he has been fully assessed.

The other place will now be filled by Police pup Harry who is currently being puppy walked by  Graham Attwood and his family. As luck would have it Graham is the course instructor for the September Initial Police dog course and is confident that despite his young age because Harry has been raised by Graham and providing that Graham handles and trains him he is capable of successfully completing the course. Graham is pictured below with Harry at the Devon county show in May this year.
I can see it, I can see it, please, please...
If Harry is successful he will then be allocated to Chris Curnow an experienced handler at the end of the course and they will then do a 2 week re-handling course together.

On Monday this week I conducted a puppy training day with our C litter pups and it was a relief to tell all the walkers that they will now be staying together until the January 2016 course as planned.

They are all pictured here together at our training session in Exeter..
Left to right are Paul with Charlie, Lindsay with Cosmic, Colin with Chaos and Dawn with Comet.
Now that they are 10 months old I decided to assess their determination to search and their boldness.

We started by rolling a ball under a very large overgrown conifer which has very low branches and thick prickly weeds surrounding and growing over the low branches making it very difficult to get to the ball after it had been rolled into the middle.

Comet is pictured here going into the undergrowth
and the ball and I completely disappear, tongue and all...
and very quickly fighting his way through to emerge pleased as punch with the ball.
and then dar-daarr, we are back. Ball anyone.
All the dogs were excellent on this exercise demonstrating determination, persistence and strong search drive.

I then set up a scenario where the puppy walkers walked around an area with their dog running free to be confronted by a strange figure emerge from behind a large tree wearing a cape and wolf mask. I expected the dogs to be spooked and to bark at the figure. I am looking to see if any of the dogs are so badly affected that they run away which is a fail.

Cosmic is seen below standing his ground after the man has emerged from the bushes and removed his mask.
uhmmm... hello. Why are you sooo blue
None of the dogs ran away and once the bad guy removed the mask and sat down all the dogs approached the figure with their walkers and investigated the area. For 10 month old pups their reaction was excellent. When they reach 18 months they will be even bolder again.

I tried my 15 month old brood bitch Qwendi on the test and she can be seen here challenging the man in the mask as he emerges.
Take it off, take it off
Unfortunately what she did next took me by surprise because she didn’t just stand her ground she ran and pinned him to the wall trying to rip his mask off.
What's a matter? Don't you speak dog? I said take it off
I can see that any pups she has are likely to be very bold.

We then went into the building for some person searching training and to see how confident the dogs were working away from their handlers.  Cosmic is pictured here barking at me having found me hiding on top of shelving and as you can see he is very confident indeed.
Found you, found you!
Of all the pups Cosmic has been the one who has not been particularly bold and Lindsay and her husband Anthony together with her dad Trevor have worked hard to improve the situation. Cosmic is also a little sensitive in situations he is not sure of. However their hard work seems to be paying off as he improves each time I see him.

Last time we trained he was a little sensitive performing criminal work on the big sleeve and so I went back to a large bite bar to build his confidence back up and as you can see his bite was full and confident with him enjoying the game.
No. Its mine. This time I'll get it!

Bebe and Elvis go to their new handlers

This was an emotional week for 2 of our puppy walking families because their pups were taken by their new handlers ready to start the next stage of their careers on the Initial Police dog course starting on Monday.

Chris is pictured below with Bebe as she goes to her new handler Sue Hillier from Dorset Police dog section.
Look ma, we match. Black on black!

Susannah is pictured below with Elvis going to his new handler Amanda Swain who will be working as a dog handler in Camborne.
All change. Change is good, pull in the tongue...
We are very grateful to Chris, Donna, Jake and Tom for puppy walking Bebe and to Susannah for puppy walking Elvis.

Potential new brood bitch Sasha

Last week I collected a lovely young 18 month old bitch called Sasha from Tony Cronin to consider as a potential replacement brood bitch for Bebe. Her potential is such that she could also be considered as a potential future Police dog.

Tony bred Sasha but she was returned to him 5 months ago by her owners who found her too much of a handful.
Yer.. What?
She has lost weight being in kennels and I think she now needs a period of stabilisation and settling down in a family home before we consider what her future holds. Her father has just won the Belgian national Schutshund championships and so she comes with an excellent pedigree.

I would like to place on record my thanks to Lyn Parlour who is still in shock at Duke failing his x rays but has kindly agreed to take Sasha to provide her with a good home while she recovers from her time spent in kennels.

Brodie do you remember him?

Brodie continues to make good progress and is now fully on the mend from his double hip replacement. Unfortunately his puppy walkers are unable to keep him full time and so the time has arrived to find him a new home. Sgt Colin Harper has kindly agreed to have Brodie to assess his general health and to see whether he could be considered for a working home.

Colin who doesn’t currently have a dog of his own is enjoying Brodie’s company during this period of assessment. Here are some pictures of their time together so far.
Hi, yep hips good thanks.
Bit cold but nice.
Love that view, can I go back in the water?
I am going up to Gloucester on Friday this week to assess a litter of German shepherd cross Malinois puppies which is going to be very interesting. We have used Malinois ( Belgian shepherds) in force but never crossed with a German shepherd so if they impress me we may well take some puppies from this litter as a trial.
Finally we have just received the X ray results of Police dog Yogi who I may use as a future stud dog. They were excellent and are probably the best we have ever had in force. We knew he had good hips but we sent the Xrays off to the British Veterinary Association to have them officially scored under their program. This will hopefully go some way to improving the current situation we have had with hips.

In my blog next week I will introduce you to all the handlers and dogs at the start of the new Initial Police dog course which runs for 13 weeks and I will will let you know how I got on assessing the litter of German shepherd/Malinois pups.

From Qwendi, Lenny and Me see you next time. Paul