There’s a good chance that 2013’s batch of police dogs are the cutest ever.
Track those eyeballs upwards of couple of degrees and just look at them – don’t you just want to snuggle them?
Now jump forward a few months. Some of the cuteness has been retained but you probably wouldn’t break down into a jibbering mess if you were to see them in the street. They’ve got a toughened look in their eyes and some serious training under their collars. They’re police dogs.
You may remember last year I went for a shift with our dog units to help give you an insight about what they do to help our officers. Much barking, sniffing and one cute video of police puppies later I came away with a much better understanding of what our K9 colleagues are capable of.
Well, with the latest breeds hot off the production line, some of whom have been named by yourselves in last month’s #nameourpups competition, I thought it might be interesting to look from the other side at what it’s like working alongside the dog units when we’re out on patrol.
We use police dogs because they have many advantages over us humans – they’ve got really long tongues, better noses, more/sharper teeth, are willing to jump into lakes, can bark, are furry – the list goes on.
It’s these features that us officers find really useful when we arrive at incidents, particularly working on the response team the abilities of the dogs to bite things or to sniff things and then maybe bite them later.
For the first ‘skill’, biting and generally being frightening, we’ll often ask for a police dog to join us if there are reports that people are fighting or duelling with sharp objects.
Both the dogs and their handlers have special training to deal with these situations which on a serious note does extend further than ‘bite first, ask questions later’.
The presence of a police dog is often enough to diffuse situations peacefully (barking aside), and whilst police dogs are deployed fairly regularly, few of these deployments end in a suspect having a police dog dangling off his arm.
That dogs are able to bring some of the ‘colourful disagreements’ that we attend to an end without the need for force is much appreciated as it reduces the chances that us officers might come to harm.
This said, the police dogs can’t differentiate between police and suspects and so when we hear the handler yell “DOG ON THE LOOSE” we all become a little nervous…
For the second skill of our dogs, smelling at stuff really well, this comes in handy when someone has decided that rather than having a nice chat with ourselves, they’d rather make good on their legs and exit stage left.
Whilst we do sometimes deal with criminals so unwashed we could track them without a dog, for the most part the dog does a much better job than we can and is able to follow people’s scents over a greater distance.
As this is the case we tend to point the dog handler in the right direction and then he or she is literally dragged down the street by their dog who understands our pointing hand gestures mean, to quote the 1995 Judge Dredd film, ‘meat is back on the menu’.
Competition is tight to get onto the dog unit, both for the humans and the dogs, meaning that only the best handlers and the cleverest dogs with the sharpest noses/teeth make the grade.
This is why our dog unit is such a valuable tool to ourselves and why if someone is ever told to do something by a dog handler, they’d really best do it otherwise their dog will show them just how far they’ve come since being an adorable puppy!