Tuesday 7 April 2020

PD Jay, PD Rebel and PD Arnie our latest graduated operational GP Police Dogs

From left to right are PD Arnie with PC Dean Barker, PD Rebel with PC Dani Howett, PD Jay with PC Ed Harris and behind course Instructor PC Phil Wilson.

The course started on the 6th of January and was scheduled to run for 13 weeks but because of the Coronavirus in week eleven the course received 24 hours’ notice that they were being assessed the following day.

Fortunately the teams were already at a very high standard and so the lack of preparation time didn’t make any difference and after 2 days of rigid assessments on Thursday 19th and Friday 20th March they all passed with flying colours


The teams

PD Rebel and PC Dani Howlett

They will be posted to the Police dog section at Ferndown in Dorset.

PD Arnie and PC Dean Barker

They will be posted to the Devon and Cornwall Police dog section at Plymouth.

PD Jay and PC Ed Harris

They will also be posted to the Devon and Cornwall Police dog section at Plymouth.

Before I report on the teams and what the course entailed I will give you the background of how the dogs arrived at this point. 


Background of the dogs before their initial course

PD Rebel was born on the 5th August 2018 and was supplied to us by Lorokmor working dogs. He was allocated to experienced puppy walkers Terry and Jill Hodge on the 27th of September 2018.

PD Arnie and PD Jay were born on the 19th of August 2018 and bred by Bernard Horton of Kazzardsway German shepherds in Manchester.

They arrived in force on the 23rd of October 2018 and were allocated to first time puppy walkers

Andy Parsons and Stewart and Alison Fleming.

Andy is a serving Police officer within force who is hoping one day to join the Police dog section and is now puppy walking TPD Freddy from our F litter.

Stewart and Alison are both former members of the Royal signal Regiment where they met over 40 years ago and later married. They settled in Crediton just over 20 years ago with their 2 sons Rory and Jamie.

Rory still lives and works in Crediton. Their other son Jamie was a Lance corporal in the same

Regiment that his parents had served. Tragically Jamie died in 2014 after a collision with a lorry whilst travelling home on leave riding his motorbike aged just 21.

Stuart and Alison have previously had German shepherds but decided against getting another one because they go abroad fairly often and so decided the next best option was to puppy walk and give something to the community.

They named their puppy ‘ Jay’ after their son Jamie.

Here are the group on their first training day at HQ.

There were 5 pups in the group which included PD Rebel’s brother and sister Ginny and Rogue.

Sadly Ginny and Rogue who in my opinion would have made Police dogs had to be released from the scheme as adults because of moderate hip dysplacia.

Here they all are going through the tunnel for the first time.

We have fortnightly training development sessions for our trainee pups and all of the puppy walkers in the group rarely missed a session.

On top of all the environmental socialising that takes place the puppy teams also develop operational skills such as obedience, agility, tracking, searching and criminal work.

Here is TPD Arnie showing at an early age a talent for tracking with puppy walker Andy.

Here is TPD Jay showing a real determination and tenacity in his criminal work with puppy walker Stuart.

Here is TPD Rebel confidently negotiating the A frame and walkway with puppy walker Jill.

You will find more pictures and video’s in blog 1 of 2020 of the pups and their puppy walkers.

By November 2019 our puppy walkers and their dogs TPD Jay, TPD Arnie and TPD Rebel had achieved an incredible standard as a result of all the work they had put in.

By now new handlers Ed, Dean and Dani had been selected to handle the dogs on the January 2020 Initial Police dog course and they all came out with their course Instructor Phil Wilson on one of our last training days to meet the dogs.

In fact Phil came out for the last 3 of our training days to see what standard the puppy walkers and their dogs were at. Phil was very impressed with their standard and I know that it meant a lot to our puppy walkers that Phil had taken the time to see just what the puppy walkers had achieved.

I would like to say a huge thank you to our puppy walkers who have played such a big part in the journey and success of our newly licensed Police dogs PD Jay, PD Arnie and PD Rebel.

I am so pleased for Terry and Jill who worked so hard with PD Rebel. I am pleased for Andy with PD Arnie and I wish him luck in his quest to be a Police dog handler.

I am particularly pleased for Alison and Stewart with PD Jay because I know just how much it meant to them in memory of their son Jamie.

I have no doubt it has meant just as much to their other son Rory pictured here centre with a very young TPD Jay.

PD Jay has done the family and Jamie proud.

I have no doubt that Jay is in good hands with his handler Ed on the next stage of their journey.


Summary of the initial course

The 13 week course started on Monday 6th January 2020. Dean and Ed had already taken possession of their dogs TPD Arnie and TPD Jay over a month previously which gave them that all important time to bond and get to know their dogs.

Dani hadn’t been able to take possession of TPD Rebel until the day of the course and worse still Rebel cut his pad just before the course and had to wear a protective boot for several weeks and had to avoid any excessive exercise.

Add to this PD Rebel is quite a hyperactive dog who can be quite sensitive to new situations and when bored, overexcited or stressed has a tendency to chase his tail which has been a feature since he was very young.

He has been hard work for his puppy walkers but because his work has been extremely good throughout this time and he has a nice nature and doesn’t demonstrate the tail chasing when working we have persevered with him.

The first few weeks were extremely stressful for Dani trying to forge a bond and keep a very hyperactive dog quiet because of his cut pad.

Also going to her home at weekends was alien to TPD Rebel and he found that stressful also. I knew it would take TPD Rebel up to 6 weeks to settle into the routine and the course which is how it turned out.

I think that Dani deserves huge credit for her patience and perseverance in coping with the situation because I have no doubt a lot of new handlers would not have coped. Here is Dani in the early stages of tracking with TPD Rebel.

I would also like to highlight our Instructor Phil Wilson who because he took the time to come out and see the dogs training with their puppy walkers he was able to see for himself just what TPD Rebel was capable of in his work & stuck with him where others may not have.

While all this was going on TPD Jay with handler Ed and TPD Arnie with handler Dean were going from strength to strength.

Needless to say TPD Rebel and Dani gradually caught the others up and when I went out with the course in what turned out to be the final week all 3 dogs were performing at an extremely good level.

This was Instructor Phil Wilsons first Initial Police dog course and I think he should be congratulated on the standard he achieved with the teams and also for his achievement in providing calm, structured incremental progressive steps to bring out the best in PD Rebel.

It also once again demonstrates what can be achieved with that all important bond between dog and handler and why area commanders should be ensuring that Police officers are released to spend time with their dogs BEFORE the course starts.

The 13 week General purpose Initial Police dog course is without doubt the most demanding dog training course there is. The reason the course is so demanding is because of the wide range of skills, disciplines and diversity of different tasks that a General purpose Police dog has to master.

The dogs have been conditioned to follow tracks or trails of criminals who have left a crime scene or of vulnerable missing persons across all types of terrain.  Here is TPD Arnie and Dean setting off on a track which is half a mile long with 4 articles hidden on route which they have to locate.

PD Arnie is an excellent tracking dog who easily completed the task and was rewarded with quality play time with his handler Dean.

Once the dogs get onto a track the handlers need to be fit to keep up with them because they certainly don’t hang around.

They have learned to search for outstanding criminals and vulnerable missing persons using air scent.

They have learned to deal with violent volatile crowds and to defend their handler against attack in all circumstances. Here is PD Arnie showing he is more than ready to defend his handler against attack.

PD Jay never needs a second invitation to deal with a fleeing or violent criminal.

Here is TPD Jay showing his boldness and tenacity dealing with a criminal armed with a firearm.

They have also been trained to negotiate different obstacles and they have been schooled to perform control and focus exercises which are the foundation of all of their work.

Here are the teams practising group and individual focus work and also negotiating obstacles.( Show Pics

The dogs have also been trained to search for and locate items of property or articles discarded or hidden by criminals or items lost by members of the public. They are trained to indicate the items passively ie not to bite or mouth them to ensure any DNA is preserved.

Here is TPD Jay and TPD Arnie giving perfect indications on items that they have located. TPD Jay has found a wallet under the drum.

TPD Arnie has located a bunch of keys hanging on the fence.

One of the most difficult exercises for a Police dog to perform is the stand-off. This is where the dog is sent to detain a fleeing criminal but must not bite if the criminal stops running and gives up before the dog gets to him.

Here is PD Rebel giving an excellent demonstration of the exercise.

Anyone wanting to pursue the role of a Police dog handler quickly finds out that physical fitness, resilience, patience and determination will be required in abundance and just what a long and tough course the 13 week basic GP Police course is.

Here is Dani on a practical track with TPD Rebel negotiating obstacles with a dog who isn’t hanging around as he tracks down the offender wanted for a simulated burglary and deals with an attempted attack on his handler and afterwards a happy team after a job well done.

On the last occasion that I went out to see the course they had another week to prepare for their licensing assessments and another week for practical’s and to prepare for their passing out parade.

But because of the Coronavirus the day I was out with the course Phil the Instructor received a phone to say the course was being cut short and that the assessments were now the next day and that the passing out parade would not now take place.

The students didn’t have time to worry about the assessments and because they were so advanced in terms of preparation & performance they all passed with flying colours over the 2 day assessment.

All have now been operational for several weeks and Dean & PD Arnie have already had several operational successes. I’ve no doubt PD Jay and PD Rebel will soon follow suit.  

Hopefully we will all meet up again for a passing out parade to thank our puppy walkers sometime in the future.

In the meantime TPD Ace is with me and Ella for a few more months until a handler is available.

I hope to do a blog on TPD Ace’s progress and to show the work I am doing with him. Because of the Corona virus there is no group training with the F litter but we are corresponding on a WhatsApp social media group where we discuss training tasks that they can do at home.

You can follow us on Twitter @DC_PoliceDogs

From Ella, Ace and me bye for now.

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