Friday 15 January 2016

In our first blog of 2016

  1. 6 Month Old Jacque Joins The Program
  2. Our German Quartet Have Their First Get Together
  3. Confidence Assessments For Our Gsd/Malinois Pups
  4. Our Senior Pups Prepare For The Devon County Show 2016
  5. Qwendi Joins Her New Handler
  6. Comet And Chaos Join Their New Handlers
  7. Sasha Starts Her Evaluation
Welcome to our 1st blog in 2016. A lot has happened since our last blog and so we have quite a lot to get through to bring everyone up to date.


1 Jacque Is Donated To The Program After The Death Of His Owner

Retired Devon & Cornwall Police officer Peter Oldfield from Truro purchased German shepherd Jacque from a local breeder when he was only 7 weeks old. Jacque was his pride and joy and he named him after Jack Rule a legendary Devon & Cornwall Police dog handler who he served alongside in Paignton.

Peter and his wife Diana had lived there many years ago with many happy memories of his time in the Police and he and Jack Rule were good friends.

Sadly Peter died late last year when Jacque was still very young. Diana continued to look after Jacque but realised he needed more than she could give him. Knowing that Peter would have loved him to have been a Police dog she offered to donate him to the force when he was 6 months of age.

Although we have enough pups in our scheme and do not need any more I could not resist taking him once Diana told me his story.

He is pictured here with his puppy walker Heather who has volunteered to look after Jacque while we assess his potential to be a future Police dog. He has a lovely temperament, is very playful and confident. It is too early to say whether he will make a future Police dog but he certainly looks the part and we will give him every opportunity and support.

The early signs are encouraging and he and Heather did very well on Sunday’s training session.


2 Roz, Roxy, Ronnie, And Rocky Our German Quartet Enjoy Their First Training

With the exception of Ronnie who is being puppy walked by Annie on a temporary basis while we find a suitable full time puppy walker our other 3 pups are now settled in with their new puppy walkers.

In my last blog I explained how I collected them from Germany in early December after they had been bred for us by Alfons Schumeister a well respected breeder near Hannover.

We all gathered at HQ on Wednesday 6 Jan for our first get together. Here they all are getting their first instructions on what is expected of them.

We introduced them to the agility equipment ramps and tunnel and as you can see they couldn’t wait to get going.
Obviously at this early stage we do not want them jumping or putting strains on their growing joints. Going up and down the ramps and through the tunnels is excellent for building confidence.

We also introduced them to tracking which is a Police dogs main skill requirement. This is the ability to follow a trail left by a person. We start this by getting the pups used to following footsteps which have small food drops left in them.  Here are Roxy and Rocky taking their first steps.
We finished in the dog school getting them used to going up and down steep stairs and introduced them to the sit and down positions.

They all look very promising and I am really looking forward to watch them develop.

I am in the middle of vetting several new puppy walkers this week and so hopefully we will soon have a permanent puppy walker for Ronnie. As always I am extremely grateful to Annie for looking after him for me.


3 Confidence Assessments For Our Gsd/Malinois Pups

I held 2 training sessions on Sunday 10 January 2016. Session 1 was held for our 4 Malinois/ German Shepherd pups who are now approaching 6 months of age.  They are at the age when we assess their reaction to environmental situations such as shiny floors, different types of stairs, loud and unusual noises and general confidence.

We did this in the old Exmouth community college and without exception all of the pups did extremely well.

Here are Dexter and Riggs relaxed and calm on 2 very shiny floor surfaces.

An aversion to shiny floor surfaces is a really strange phenomenon because lots of dogs really do not like walking on them. It seems to be a particular problem for dogs who have not received good early exposure to lots of varied circumstances and socialisation such as kennel dogs.

Here Riggs makes his way confidently down steep shiny stairs.
A Police dog needs to be confident in all situations because we never know where they may be required to work.

Here is Cato completely unfazed by a loud noisy hoover.
He is also extremely inquisitive as can be seen here happily climbing on a chair to see what Susannah is interested in.
Riggs was a little unsure of the hoover but feeding him tasty liver treats around the hoover whilst switched off and we soon progressed to him becoming more relaxed when switched on for a second at a time.

The dogs were not at all fazed by the noise of metal trays being thrown around on concrete floors or the loud overhead noise of the runners being pulled above the ropes in the Gym.
I was very pleased with all of the dogs and I must apologise to Angie as I didn’t have my camera when we took Reggie around the building. We finished the session with some control work exercises as a group to get them used to working together without being distracted.
Again for such a lively bunch they were excellent.


4 Our Senior Pups Preparing For The Devon County Show 2016

Memphis, Flynn, Rika, Billy, Lenny and our new boy Jacque all took part in our afternoon training session at HQ Middlemoor.
Now that the C litter are just about to start their Police dog training this group are now our senior citizens.

Memphis, Flynn, and Rika are all now 9 months and from the same litter. Lenny is 8 months and was imported from Germany. Billy is the baby of the group at 7 months and Jacque is a couple of weeks older than Billy.

We started with some article search work which they were all very enthusiastic about and it is an important part of the work of Police dogs locating stolen and lost items of property. Here is Memphis showing real focus, concentration and drive.
Next we did some work on the agility obstacles in preparation for the Devon County show which all of the pups will be involved in this year.

Here is Flynn going over the high platform,

and here is Billy posing for the camera.

We also did some work getting the dogs barking on command in preparation for the introduction of searching for missing persons on our next session. Here is Jacque doing very well on his first go at it.

Considering it is Jacques first real training session he did really well and as you can see Heather enjoyed herself.

Rika was well into her first season and so she had to wait until the boys had done each session of their work before she could have her go so as not to distract the boys.

That worked very well until the end of the session when we tried for a group photo then the fun and games began.

Next we did our tracking exercises which we always do on every session because as I explained earlier it is the most important part of our work.

Here is Billy showing intense concentration and I am really pleased with how well they are all doing on this exercise.

Finally we finished on some control exercises in the group concentrating on sit and down stay work. I don’t like to call it obedience because that paints a picture of forced compliance and we want the dogs to want to do the exercises because they want to and are enjoying the experience.

This work is coming along very nicely.

Finally it was time for our group photo and the boys may only be youngsters but they certainly knew all about the birds and the bees and Rika was suddenly the most popular dog there.

Heather did well hanging on to Jacque and finally we managed to get a photo that looked almost normal in the chaos.


5 Qwendi Finally Joins Her New Handler

For those of you who are not aware Qwendi who is 21 months old was imported by me as a young pup from Germany and because of her exceptional working ability and character my intention was for her to be our main brood bitch.

She is pictured here on the left with Lenny and Roxy in my garden before xmas.
Unfortunately her hip score was not good enough for breeding and so I trained and licensed her as an operational Police dog. It was decided that she would be allocated to PC Ritchie Irwin in North Devon as his dog Archie is due to retire.

The story didn’t end there because when I took her in to the vets to be spayed via key hole surgery before Xmas it was found she had 2 large cysts in her ovaries and so she had to have full surgery.

After nursing her to full fitness she left me last Wednesday to join Ritchie and is currently undergoing a short re-handling course with him. What we now know is even if her hips had been better for breeding with the abnormalities in her ovaries she would not have been able to conceive any way.

I wish them both good luck for the future. I am already missing her but I have the utmost respect for Ritchie and know he will look after her and will give her the work she thrives on.

6 Comet And Chaos Join Their Handlers Ready For Their Intial Course Starting On January 18th 2016 

It only seems yesterday that our C litter were born at my house as they now prepare for their Initial Police dog course which starts on Monday 18 January.

Pictured above are puppy walkers Colin and Dawn meeting and handing over Chaos and Comet to their new handlers Mark and Andy from Dorset Police.

I am instructing on the course and I will be doing a blog next week introducing all the handlers and dogs.

7 Sasha Joins Me For Evaluation  

I acquired Sasha, who is 20 months old, from a breeder who for financial reasons had to sell all of his brood bitches several months ago. She had been returned to him because the previous owners had found her too lively and she then spent over 7 months in his kennels.

She was clearly underweight and so I placed her with puppy walker Lyn Parlour to settle and stabilise her and to get her weight back up.

It was arranged that she would join me once Qwendi went to her new handler.

Sasha has now joined me and is settling in well although I think she finds my 8 month old Lenny a pain in the backside due to his youthful exuberance.

Well that brings everyone up to date. I will keep you updated on how Sasha develops and next week I will give you an update on the new Initial Police dog course.

Finally I leave you with a picture of Lenny confused as to how I managed to climb inside the television set.

Bye for now from me (and of course Sasha and Lenny)
"What?... Do we say bye now?"

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