Tuesday 20 October 2015

PC Steve Waters and police dog Lady finish top of the 2015 Devon and Cornwall

Police Dog Assessments

Steve and Lady

Steve being presented with the cup, 2015 Champions

The 2015 Devon and Cornwall Police Dog assessments (previously called police dog trials) took place over a 2 day period at Dartington and Police Headquarters Middlemoor, Exeter last week.

The assessments provide the Devon and Cornwall police dog handling teams the opportunity to showcase their skills and to compare their standard against the other dog teams within Devon and Cornwall. The best 3 teams are then selected to compete against other dog teams in the Region which includes, Dorset, Avon and Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.

The overall winners from the Region then go on to represent their Region against the winning teams from all the other regions within the UK.

Our winner Steve Waters and police dog Lady who are based in Bodmin made it a clean sweep winning all of the individual categories and achieving the highest overall total score. Here they are in the middle of their heelwork routine demonstrating handler and dog in total unison. 

Going into the assessments Steve and Lady were the favourites because they are the current Regional Police dog champions and were also crowned the National Police dog tracking champions at the last National Police dog assessments. Lady is pictured here just about to launch and disarm the criminal firing a gun. 

My Favourite picture of Lady is of her returning at full speed to her handler Steve when he recalled her. 

However they were pushed all the way by our runner-up Steve Cruwys and Police dog Logan based in Exeter. Here are Steve and Logan performing their round of heelwork. 

Steve and Logan are previous Force champions and their performance is testament to Logan’s fitness and condition because Logan will be 8 in April next year. They are also one of our highly skilled Firearm support dog teams.

Steve is pictured here on his control round communicating to Police dog Logan that he wants him to run out 100 metres to a set of goal posts and to adopt a down position before waiting for Steve’s next instruction. 

As you can see Logan executes his instructions perfectly. 

This is an important exercise particularly for a firearm support team because they often have to work their dogs ahead of Police tactical firearms officers when searching for an armed criminal and the handler and firearms officers remain behind cover while they do this.

Logan is pictured here having caught the criminal who wrongly thought he could outrun the old boy. Because the criminal stopped running and gave himself up Logan did as he is trained NOT to bite him and to keep him there until his handler joins them. 

The dog teams are assessed on their ability to track down and search for offenders, vunerable missing persons and outstanding property. They are assessed on their boldness and ability to deal with violent criminals, disorderly crowds, and also on their agility, heelwork and all round control.

What really pleased me this year was the fact that we had 3 inexperienced handlers who had no experience of competing but were confident enough to put themselves up for assessment. It takes a lot of hard work to prepare for the assessments and it is a very nerve racking experience being assessed by a Judge from another Police force.

The inexperienced handlers were Simon Willan with Police dog Charlie based at North Devon, Tom Bond with Police dog Bowser also based at North Devon and Mark Andrews with Police dog Axel based in Plymouth.)

Simon is pictured here with Police dog Charlie nervously waiting as they were the first team on and about to be assessed on their heel work. 

Simon needn’t have worried they were excellent.

I was very impressed with the progress that they have made since their Initial Police dog course. I know how independent and stubborn Charlie could be on his heel work and it was obvious to anyone watching how much hard work and time has gone in to get that wonderful attention and focus that Simon has achieved with Charlie. 

Also on his Initial Police dog course Charlie could be a bit erratic on his tracking exercise. Not any more Simon and Charlie finished only a few points behind the winner Steve and Lady who let us not forget are the current National Police dog tracking champions. (Great achievement you two).

Here is Charlie with his tail held high exuding masculinity and dominance but waiting for the one person he accepts as his leader and partner to give him the next instruction. 

Here is Tom Bond and Police dog Bowser who have been operational together for just over 2 years and recently qualified as a firearms support dog team. 

They are performing the difficult skill of sending the dog to a point 100 metres away. This is called a send away and just like Steve and Logan they executed it perfectly.

I also love this photo of Tom and Bowser performing their heelwork which just oozes focus, enjoyment and a wonderful bond.

Although Tom was a little disappointed with how they performed on the first day of assessment he was very proud of how Bowser came back strongly on the obedience, criminal work and agility finishing narrowly behind the overall winner Steve and Lady in this section.

He also secured third place taking him to the Regional assessments. Here is Bowser taking no nonsense from the criminal trying to attack him with the stick. 

The straight chase criminal didn’t get very far either. 

Our youngest team Mark Stevens and Police dog Axel who only began their operational career last year also did very well on their very first assessments. No you are not mistaken Axel is a very big dog. 

Axel is already showing himself to be a very excellent operational Police dog but for whatever reason didn’t perform as well as he can on the tracking on day 1. However he rallied on day 2 and showed what an excellent searching dog he is by finishing narrowly behind the Champion Steve and Lady.

I love this photo of Axel introducing himself to the fleeing criminal and the commitment and determination is there for all to see. 

Mark is pictured here sending Axel on the send away exercise. I don’t think you could accuse either of this team of lacking enthusiasm. 

Axel is pictured here fully committed to the straight chase after the fleeing criminal but on hearing Mark’s command to stop the chase on the emergency recall exercise he immediately returns to his handler. 

I have no doubt that next time Mark and Axel will be a force to be reckoned with. The ability is there, the commitment is there, the enthusiasm is there all that is needed is a bit more experience then watch this space.

Our thanks go out to Criminals and helpers Hugh Watson, Graham Attwood, Lee Adamson, and Lee Crampton for all of their help and to Tony Jordan for the organisation. Thanks also to Sue from Dorset currently on her initial course for the excellent photos she managed to take with our camera.

Finally, we would all like to say a big thank you to our Judge Steve Hopwood from Avon and Somerset Police dog section who came down in his own time to Judge our trials. He is pictured here receiving our appreciation from the Devon and Cornwall dog section. 

Here are a few more photo’s of the day.

A view from behind Axel doing the long jump.

Lady responding to Steve’s command to let go of the gun criminal but just gently enquiring whether she could just have another nibble. She didn’t and returned to dad.

The old boy Login jumping through the window. Relax dad I never touched it.

Charlie senses that Simon seems a little nervous

Don't be nervous dad this is fun. Charlie on the stick attack.

Lady completing the hurdle.

Charlie showing he can be patient.

Steve receiving the runner-up trophy donated by one of our longest serving puppy walkers Annie Miller.

A thoroughly enjoyable occasion and seeing all of the handlers, helpers, instructors and supporters together making it a success I think the future is in good hands. As always let us not forget the job that our puppy walkers do and our thanks to all of them.

Bye for now see you on the next blog.


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