Thursday 12 December 2019

PD Tank ( Errol) and PD Nico successfully graduate as operational police dogs but TPD Rana and TPD Ernie have to wait a little bit longer

Pictured above are PC Elizabeth Porcher with PD Tank (Previously Errol) course Instructor Steve Dutton and PS Andy Coleman with PD Nico having just qualified as Operational Police dogs.

After 13 gruelling weeks on their General purpose Police dog course they were independently assessed yesterday by City of London Police dog Instructor John Nichols and granted their home office license to become General purpose Police dogs.

Readers of the blog will know the course started with 4 dogs and a different Instructor Graham Attwood. Here are the dog teams at the start of the course with the Chief Constable making an impromptu appearance.

From left to right were TPD Ernie with the course Instructor Graham Attwood, TPD Rana with handler Jenna Bushby Dorset Police, TPD Nico with handler Andy Coleman D&C and TPD Tank ( Previously Errol) with handler Elizabeth Porcher Dorset Police.  

All 3 handlers on the course were novice first time handlers. TPD Ernie was the only dog without a handler and this was because it was considered that his extremely strong drives, fierce determination and speed meant that TPD Ernie needed an experienced dog handler.

Here he is showing that determination in week 1 whilst tracking with Graham.
As we didn’t have an experienced dog handler needing a dog we decided to train him anyway just in case a handler became available.

It was decided that course Instructor Graham Attwood would handle and train him for the rest of the course. TPD Ernie was living with Graham and his family during the course.
The course progressed well with all of the dogs performing well in all exercises and disciplines.

Here is Jenna with TPD Rana showing natural tracking ability in the early weeks.

TPD Rana was meant to be on our January 2020 course but because we lost several dogs from our Sept 2019 course with hip dysplasia we had to fast track her onto this course aged only 10 months.

Here is course Instructor Graham with TPD Ernie tracking training after 5 weeks on the course and  showing just why we rate TPD Ernie so highly

Over the 13 weeks the dogs have to learn to track and search for vulnerable missing persons and outstanding criminals, deal with violent and disorderly crowds, defend their handlers from attack, chase and detain fleeing criminals, search for lost or discarded stolen property, negotiate a wide variety of different obstacles and all of this is built on a foundation of control exercises.

Here is PD Tank ( Errol) emphasizing just what  outstanding tracking dogs we produce in our force. We start this exercise with our 3 month old pups because it is the most important exercise our Police dogs have to do.

I have emphasized the tracking because in the vast rural area our handlers have to work in and the distances they have to cover very often by the time they get to the scene the track is fading and only the best tracking dogs can flourish.

Very often our handlers are alone tracking violent criminals for miles in the dark having to negotiate obstacles on the way. Here is Andy tracking across country negotiating a fence with his 42 kg dog PD Nico before locating the offender.

Unfortunately around week 6 of the course disaster struck when Instructor Graham Attwood injured his back just as he was about to lift TPD Ernie over a fence whilst tracking.

This injury effectively put Graham out for the rest of the course and so Instructor Steve Dutton had to take over and carry on the good work already done by Graham.

This meant that Graham couldn’t look after TPD Ernie. Ernie then came to live with me at weekends and continued training with the course members during each week.

As always my dog Ella took him under her wing and it was perfect relaxation for him in between training on the course.

Here he is doing a track with Vikky Ritchie who helped out on the course while her own dog PD Riggs recovered from a leg injury.
Around week 9 of the course TPD Rana developed some gastrointestinal issues which prevented her completing the rest of the course. She has fully recovered but will now need to complete a further 4 weeks training in the new year to be ready for licensing.
It is a real shame that she couldn’t finish on this course and obtain her license because she was doing so well. But it is great news that she has fully recovered and I think she will be a great dog for Jenna.

Keeping TPD Ernie training on the course proved to have been a very wise decision because last week tragedy struck when PD Buddy from our B litter had to be put to sleep after battling an awful disease called Furunculosis which had taken a turn for the worst.

Rachael took Buddy to see his old puppy walkers for the last time before doing what we all dread in such circumstances ie saying goodbye and watching our best friend quietly going to sleep in our arms.

Here is Buddy on his passing out parade over 4 years ago with his handler Rachael and his puppy walkers Lyndsay and Anthony.

PD Buddy was an outstanding Police dog who Rachael will never forget and she will always have the fantastic memories of their time together.

Rachael has now been allocated TPD Ernie and today took TPD Ernie from me to get to know and bond with him before joining TPD Rana and Jenna on a 4 week licensing course at the beginning of January.
In the B litter as a tiny pup PD Buddy stood out as he always fixed you with his strong confident stare and I knew he would be a future Police dog. TPD Ernie in the E litter was exactly the same and I have no doubt he will be a great dog for Rachael.

Steve will continue with their Instruction and I look forward to seeing them graduate and follow in the footsteps of PD Tank ( Errol ) and PD Nico.

Last week I spent the day watching Instructor Steve putting the final touches to preparing PD Tank and PD Nico for their assessments with their handlers. Here are Andy and PD Nico getting some words of wisdom from Steve.

Here is Elizabeth and PD Tank practising for their tracking assessment. On the tracking assessment they have to follow the trail of a criminal who has left the scene of a crime 45 minutes prior to the arrival of the dog team.

The track is over half a mile in distance and they have to locate 4 articles hidden or dropped by the criminal on route and they then have to locate the criminal and arrest him/her. (

Here is PD Nico searching for hidden items of property and on locating he must indicate by freezing and not touching the item to preserve any DNA.

Here is PD Nico carrying out the stand-off exercise. This is where the handler sends his/her dog to detain a fleeing criminal and the criminal then decides to stop and surrender giving himself up. The dog should not bite but remain with the criminal until his/her handler arrives.

It is a very difficult exercise to teach because the dog has to make a split second decision not to bite.

Nico performed the exercise perfectly and the criminal has no doubt running again would be a bad move.

Here is Andy practising the down stay and some control exercises with PD Nico. This is the foundation for all exercises.

Here is PD Tank practising his down stay and some agility exercises.

So all the hard work over 13 weeks and the final preparations paid off with the successful teams achieving their license to leave as operational Police dogs and so the final day is always reserved for the passing out parade.

We have had a passing out parade for over 30 years which is always a nice way to finish the course. It gives the handlers a chance to share the day with their family and it also gives us an opportunity to say a big thank you to all of our puppy walkers.

The weather was appalling but nothing was going to put the dampeners on our puppy walkers being reunited with their dogs.

Here is PD Nico reunited with Rob and Karen.

Here is PD Tank ( Errol) being reunited with Sue and Andy.

It is always interesting how it always takes a minute for the dog to realise it is actually their puppy walkers.

The course then put on a demonstration for their families, friends and puppy walkers. The foul  weather and boggy ground made it unsuitable for formal heelwork and the usual march on parade.

Elizabeth and PD Tank ( Errol ) gave a demonstration of tracking down and dealing with a very violent festive Elf.

Andy and PD Nico gave a demonstration of a vehicle pursuit where the driver a Belinda Carlisle lookalike abandoned the vehicle and tried to escape.

We all then went inside to dry off and to warm up with a hot drink before taking photographs of the course, family and puppy walkers with their dogs.

Here are the course with ACC Paul Davies who is a great supporter of the section and wanted to present the handlers with their certificates and a thank you photo to the puppy walkers.

From left to right are Andy with PD Nico, ACC Paul Davies, course Instructor Steve Dutton  and Elizabeth Porcher with PD Tank

Andy with PD Nico and his puppy walkers Rob and Karen.

Andy with PD Nico and Andy’s family.

Andy with PD Nico and his breeder Bernard Horton of Kazzardsway German shepherds who traveled down from Manchester to see them.

Andy and PD Nico ready to hit the streets.

Elizabeth or Porch as she is known with PD Tank ( Errol) with his puppy walkers Andy and Sue.

Porch with PD Tank and Porch’s family.

Porch with PD Tank ready to hit the streets of Dorset.

After the photos we all retired to the presentation room where ACC Paul Davies presented the handlers with their licensing certificates and the puppy walkers with a photo of their dog and a certificate of recognition for all of their hard work.

Then it was time to retire to the buffet ably presented by our kennel technician and cordon bleu chef for the day John.

Despite the weather we all had a great day. I would like to wish Porch and Andy all the best as they start their new career as operational dog handlers with PD Tank and PD Nico.

From Ella and I see you next time.