Wednesday 17 July 20:45
Jess, Neo and Rocket - The Search Dog Journey continues
Rocket is here and in a month I head off to Surrey Police Headquarters to commence our Pro-Active Specialist Search dog course. I am looking forward to it and as I have mentioned on many occasions, I hold high hopes for Rocket. She has bags of enthusiasm and won’t stop running for a ball!
These attributes will hold her in good stead for a successful course but I don’t want to get my hopes up too much. We have to remember that these animals, as clever as they are, are not robots. They have characteristics as you and I so we will have to see how we go. That doesn’t stop me having aspirations with her.
The course itself is six weeks which can be extended if the needs must. It’s a fun course where we attend numerous different training venues and as the course progresses we make the hiding places more and more complex! These dog’s, once they recognise the scent, are very difficult to deceive! The drugs world believe they can but its not easy, I assure you!
My time as a search dog handler has been a roller coaster of a journey really. My first dog Jess was a black Labrador. A beauty of a dog and couple with a smashing nature. She passed the initial course that I’m about to go on with Rocket. However, out in the real world, she didn’t take to the work quite so well. The dirtier of the addresses we attended to search were not Jess’s cuppa! She became very subdued and very difficult to motivate. This was something we worked on in terms of improving her confidence but with very little obvious success. In the end we re-homed Jess to a couple who have taken her in and given her a wonderful home away from the police. She is often seen flying around th beaches in the far west of the county. Good Luck Jess!
Then came Neo. I won’t go too in depth regarding PD Neo as I’ve rattled on a lot about how good he is! He’ll not be able to walk out of my house if I carry on! Haha! He is coming to the end of his service with Sussex Police and it his time to chillax! Thanks Neo - You and have been an absolute Legend :-)
So, Rocket, we have got lots of work ahead… You’ve seriously got some big old pads to fill! No pressure girl! As I mentioned in the last blog, I’ll keep you posted with our progress along the way, no,doubt with the odd photo or 10 along the way!
I will close this blog with a Huge Thank you to everyone who nominated me for the Award at the Sussex Police Social Media 4 year Anniversary hosted by our very own Deputy Chief Constable Giles York. I was sadly unable to attend the event held at Sussex Police HQ, Lewes. I am very humbled by the award. Without the experiences with my canine colleagues, I’d be proper boring!! I am relatively new to the whole social media in the work place so am really pleased with the award. Thanks Tweepers and catch up soon. You know what’s coming. #followthepaw
Wednesday 10 July 20:58
Warm Welcome to T/PD Rocket
Rocket has arrived into the fold of @foxydogteam ! Exciting times… PD Neo is definitely looking forward to his retirement now. I believe he caught a whiff of my Sun tan lotion and thought “I’m up for some of that kicking back action”! To be fair, he’s earned it. Maybe not the sun tan lotion though!
Rocket is 150mph but has the initial makings of a good little search dog. I don’t want to tempt fate you understand. However, she is very responsive to her name and searches naturally. She is totally in love with her tennis ball.
Rocket will not officially be a search dog for Sussex Police until successful completion of her initial course next month. She’s a year old with bags of raw enthusiasm so I have high expectations!
Her puppy walkers have done a great job with her and definitely deserve credit. I will keep you posted with her progress in the run up to the course and throughout. I’ll maybe even get more photos up of her! She’s very photogenic as you may have noticed!
Watch this space :-)
Tuesday 18 June 15:08
Police Puppy Rocket. We are off on an initial course in August
Friday 17 May 20:06
It’s been a while… Sorry! It’s been a busy few months with work. My little dog team have been training hard, trying to improve our core skills and as per previous blogs, continuous training can only make us better! It’s been good and with the aid of my instructor, we are seeing progression. Next week we head off to our colleagues at Surrey Police HQ for our Annual Refresher course. A good intensive week of training with other dog handlers and a great chance to add some training ideas to the ‘tool box’.
PD Abbi has been working well, helping in the detention of two males recently who broke into a leisure complex in Eastbourne and fled the scene into the darkness. One of the local Sergeants stopped 2 males about 1/2 a mile away who were out of breath. Abbi, using her hunting abilities, tracked straight to them! Answer that one lads! Good positive result!
PD Neo has been busy too though. He found a quantity of cash secreted in clothing recently during a search warrant. he also located a small quantity of ketamine in a car. Still quite a new controlled substance which is coming to light more and more. Neo has been searching across the whole force! The boy loves it! He is such a great dog as I often harp on about! Sadly he is entering the twilight of his Police career and is due to retire in the late summer this year. It will be odd but I will be off training my new recruit! Neo has worked hard and deserves to put his pads up!
I’m hoping to catch up with James, Baxter and Diesel soon to throw some ideas about for our blogs. We will hopefully look at doing some vlogs too!
Until the next time, keep following the paw, your interest and ongoing support is greatly received.
Monday 15 April 12:01
Yesterday @foxydogteam ran the Brighton Marathon with thousands of other like minded folk. Almost £600 was raised in conjunction with Police Endurance Fitness Team Ironcoppers for Cancer Research UK. Foxy came in at 4hrs16 minutes and is feeling a bit sore today! Thank you all for your support and sponsorship. It was warmly received.
Lets take a moment, however, to remember the young male runner, aged 23 who collapsed on the course and later died in Hospital. Very sad times and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time
Thursday 4 April 18:18
Neo - My Wonder Search Dog
I must apologise for the lack of blogs over the last month. Things have been quite full on with training commitments and other operational deployments. Busy is what we do best!
I thought I’d do a blog to celebrate the working career of Police Dog Neo who’s working time with Sussex Police is drawing to a close in the summer - that is if the summer ever appears?!
Neo has been a true gem to me. He came to me in unfortunate circumstances you could say. I was struggling with a new search dog called Jessica. She is a black Labrador bitch. She passed the Pro-Active Search Dog course, being able to locate all of the substances and articles that is required. However, sadly, when we went operational, Jess struggled in some of the places that we had to search. As you may imagine, some of the premises we have to search are not particularly pleasant and this had such a negative effect on her searching ability. We tried to work on this but sadly things didn’t pan out and in time she had to be withdrawn from service. She is now a happy member of a family in West Sussex, perched nicely on their leather suite! It makes me happy to see her so settled and happy in her new life.
Neo was a fully trained police search dog when he came to me from a handler at Gatwick. Neo is a black and white coloured English Springer Spaniel who has been with Sussex Police for about 7 years. Unfortunately Neo suffered a nasty ligament injury in one of his rear legs which required major orthorpedic surgery which was aired on a TV series called ‘The Bionic Vet’. Neo had a re-alignment operation on his knee joint which went really well. Neo then underwent months of hydrotherapy which is, in my belief, what enabled him to work on for many more years. The odds were against him at the start. He is a strong willed little fellow and totally defied the odds! He’s adored swimming ever since!
The only down side is that arthritis has set into the joint as you can imagine and as a result he is to retire about a year earlier than expected. This is for his quality of life which is really important. He has totally earned the feet up time he is about to experience! I have found a new home for him, close to me which will enable me to still see him lots! It will be weird not to have him at home but it is the best thing for him in the long run. He will love his new home as he gets to stay there from time to time already! They love him to pieces. He could have stayed with us but what with PD Abbi and the new search dog, along with our pet pooch, I did not want Neo to be left out. He deserves more.
Neo has had so many operational finds throughout the course of his career. We are talking hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash, drugs and firearms. Ridding the streets of drugs, cash and guns from the proceeds of crime pleases me immensely. It’s a big part of what I joined this job to do. Neo is such a clever dog who has been a credit to Sussex Police and I believe he warranted a whole blog of his very own. I know we are not done yet Neo but I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being such a top police dog and pal. Your replacement has some seriously big pads and nose to fill! Bless you mate :) #followthenose
Thursday 14 March 17:27
PD Neo in Training today. Located and indicates on a firearm secreted. Good Boy :)
Monday 11 March 15:45
PD Abbi enjoying yet more snow :)
Sunday 10 March 18:05
My 1st "Proper Dog Job"
On a bitterly cold winters morning in 2005 I was coming to the end of a night shift. Chilled to the bone, I was patrolling with PD Ellie, looking for anything moving to investigate! It had been a really up and down shift for us and to be honest I was looking forward to heading off home, going off duty and getting some well earned shut eye! You always know it’s been a bleak shift when you can actually visualize yourself climbing into bed! That said though, still fairly new to the Police Dog Handling world, I was so keen to prove myself. I had had negative after negative result with Ellie in the early days. Looking back, some of the negatives were possibly down to me, with a learning curve near vertical! Some of the negative’s were down to circumstance but still, as a newbie, I was losing a bit of confidence in my own abilities and more worryingly that of my more than capable police dog. I had got a bit of ribbing from some colleagues and albeit light hearted, it still knocked my belief. I never have, and never will let that happen again.
It was about 4.30 in the morning when my radio crackled into life with a report of a road traffic collision on one of our major trunk roads. It was a report of a single vehicle crash which had rolled several times and had come to rest on its roof in the middle of the road. There was no-one with the car. I arrived on scene swiftly and was confronted with a vehicle which was devoid of any windows, with glass everywhere all over the road. The smell of a not so healthy clutch filled the air. The driver of this wrecked car had made off from the crash scene. Was the driver injured? Was the driver not the owner of the car, maybe a stolen car? Was the driver drunk? All these questions needed to be ascertained and even though the fire & rescue service were all around the car, making it safe, I still attempted to see if there was a track away from the car with my canine colleague.
I placed Ellie into her tracking harness and as I worked her around the car, her nose quickly hit the ground and she took off, with me hanging on for dear life! Tail up like a flag pole, Ellie tracked off alongside the road on the grass verge for over a quarter of a mile when she turned into a gateway and up to a five bar gate. She sniffed the top of the gate and without any encouragement, Ellie jumped the gate and I had to follow suit, and sharply! She wasn’t stopping for anyone!
I glanced across the field and was immediately confronted with around 50 pairs of eyes staring at us! “Great a field full of sheep!” I muttered to myself! This probably should have caused me some difficulties but No… Ignoring the sheep, Ellie’s nose hit the ground again and she tracked up the side of the field which had a water filled ditch aligning. As we got about 200+ yards into the field Ellie suddenly stopped. Her head came up and I watched as the hackles on her back rose and she started growling. Her demeanour had completely changed. There was someone here but where? I shone my torch forward but nothing. Ellie started barking repeatedly, bouncing around and then, like a scene out of a film, the water erupted and I took a jump back it’s fair to say! A male stood before us, soaked to the bone and looking pretty cold! I remember him saying to me “Mate, that dog is effing awesome”! I detained the male and escorted him out of the field into the arms of awaiting response colleagues. He was the driver of the crashed car and later was charged with drink driving. Luckily no one else was injured as a result of his actions.
In the early hours of that morning back in 2005, my police dog had succeeded! I was so pleased, it’s a difficult emotion to explain but I am sure other dog handlers out there would relate to it. A colleague called up over the air and said “Well Done Foxy & Ellie”. That meant so much to me. That morning, I said to myself - I’m a dog handler! :)
Sunday 3 March 23:43
Foxydogteam - Brighton Marathon 2013
This April 2013, I am running my 1st Marathon. I am still relatively new to the running scene having only got into it properly in September 2011. Since then I have run a few half marathons but this year I have joined a team of police officers and staff called Ironcoppers and I am running for Cancer Research UK.
If your able to spare anything at all, I’ll be so grateful. I’m sure you’ll agree the work Cancer Research UK do is amazing. Thanks very much for reading.
Saturday 23 February 09:10
Hard Work Pays Off
It’s a veritable roller coaster being a dog handler. Non dog handler colleagues have often and historically taken the mick saying things like “You lot are always training”! The truth of the matter is that we do actively train with our dogs when time allows. We train to succeed. We train to create a bond between handler and dog. This bond and the training we do is what makes our police dogs track round a neighbourhood to someone hiding under a car who is concealing themselves, having just burgled a shed. It’s what makes these wonderful free thinking animals hunt out a missing elderly lady in the woods. It’s what enables you, as a dog team, to qualify for the next stages in regional and national police dog trials. My pal PC James Brotherhood will relate to that. He and PD Baxter head off to the Regional Trials next month to which I wish them best wishes. Go on my son!
When your training succeeds and you see the results, it is quite simply phenomenal. I’ve been a dog handler for over 8 years and it still makes me mighty happy when something you’ve taught your dog sinks in, works, and works well. Your dog finding somebody hiding from police having fled a crime scene. It’s a feeling that is hard to put across to you but as soon as I get back into my dog van, it’s fair to say I still punch the air and jump about in euphoria :) Love it!!
I was fortunate enough to compete in Police Dog Trials at Regional level with my first dog, Ellie. It was when Sussex Police hosted the competition and was open to the public at the Withdean Stadium in Brighton. It was a great time and a chance to show off my dog, the dog which I trained with the guidance of instructors. Proud Dog Man only slightly sums it up. My current dog Abbi won our Sussex Force trials with her former handler and I intend to emulate this with her in the future. This can be achieved through…. You guessed it, hard work and training!
Sometimes though, as you’d expect, things don’t go to plan. Lets not forget that these dogs are not robots and there are occasions when Lady Luck doesn’t assist you. Tracking after the car thief who has fled police and all the badgers and foxes in the whole of the UK decide to converge on that exact road to mess your night up!! It can be frustrating, so frustrating but why? It’s frustrating because of all the hard work, time, sweat and tears we spend training with our best friends, our dogs, we want success. We want them to shine. It may sound vain in some ways but lets remember that this is our job, we are passionate to succeed with our dogs and put a criminal or two behind bars. Fear not though, most of the time they do succeed!
This training relates to our specialist search dogs also, naturally. It’s the same concept of course. PD Neo and I regularly attend training days. He is an experienced search dog and I trust him completely to find what we’re there to find. He’s a great dog and has been a credit to the force.
This short blog sprung to mind on the back of a conversation I had recently and wanted to share my thoughts with you.
Until the next time ….. Graham :)
Wednesday 13 February 11:38
Foxydogteam’s 1st Blog
My first blog…… This is all a bit new to me and hopefully I’m not treading on my mate Jame’s toes. He has done some wicked blogs and after chatting about the world of Twitter and Tumblr and all things technical, we thought we’d throw a few more dog tales into the mix! So here we are, Graham and canine colleagues and more so friends, Abbi and Neo!!
A bit about me and the role I carry out in Sussex Police. I joined Sussex Police in 2000 after serving in the Royal Navy since leaving school. I served in the RN as an Operator Mechanic and loved my role on board Hunt Class Mine Counter Measure Vessels. I could very easily do a whole blog on my time in ‘The Mob’!
I digress… Since joining Suspol, I have always worked in the East of the county, starting in Hastings and subsequently Rother, incorporating Bexhill, Battle and Rye. This was mainly as a frontline response officer and had much fun there. I did do a stint on the Secondary Investigation Unit (BCU - Beat Crime Unit for the older servers amongst you and RIT - Response Investigation Team to the more recent cops out there)!
My successful application to the Ops Department, saw me start my career as a dog handler in 2004. I was probably destined to be a foxydogman, following in my old mans footsteps. He too was a Sussex Police Dog Handler for over 22 years! No pressure for me to succeed then! He’s been a font of knowledge and advice for me. Cheers Dad :)
My first pup, Brook didn’t quite make the grade and he quickly took up home with a young family. Hes had a happy life I’m told! PD Ellie (GSD) was my first successful General Purpose Police Dog and we sailed through a 13 week in force initial course. I went on to have a fruitful partnership with the ‘Elsmeister’. She was a ‘rough diamond’ but the bond between handler and dog is very difficult to describe but fair to say I was a broken man when her heart eventually failed her and she laid to rest.
Lets move on… Quickly… In 2009 I started working a second dog who is a specialist search dog but I’ll come onto him presently!
I had to bounce back from Ellie and quickly. I was working with other dog handlers, helping with training and generally trying to keep busy. I still had Neo my search dog which saw me very busy in assisting colleagues forcewide with search warrants and the like. In December 2011, I rehandled PD Abbi from Steve, one of our top experienced handlers who was entering retirement. I felt for him but I vowed to continue the good work he had done with Abbi.
Abbi is a General Purpose Police dog and is trained in numerous skills ranging from tracking after suspects to searching for a missing persons. She is trained to detain persons, if required to and to find property discarded. She is very agile and very quick!! Abbi has an add on to her role and that is a Firearms Support Dog. This is a role that encompasses a range of skills and as the title hints at, we work alongside the force Tactical Firearms Teams in a supporting capacity.
My 2nd Dog - How greedy am I!
Neo is an English Springer Spaniel and is trained as a Pro-Active Specialist Search dog, trained to a high standard also. Neo is trained to locate and indicate Drugs, Currency and Firearms. He is 7 years old and entering his last year of service with Sussex Police. I took Neo on a couple of years back from another dog hanlder. Naturally, I am biased but I think Neo is a phenomenal search dog and I fear I could go on and on with superlatives in relation to him. A true superstar who is off to to live in quieter surroundings when he does hang up his expert nostrils! Serving at London 2012 Olympics was one tour of duty that will stay with me forever. I’m so pleased it was with Neo. He earned that little trip!
Then I start afresh with a new Search Dog, and I have no idea which dog I will be given but fear not, pictures and updates will be duly posted! Exciting times ahead but I am really going to miss Neo. Lucky for me, he’ll be living close by meaning I can still drop in and take him for walks. I do hope my next search dog is also a springer spaniel because I love their work ethic and drive to want to work. If he or she is half as good as Neo I will be over the moon.
Anyway, it’s been emotional… It was almost an autobiography! Thank you for reading. I’ll be back soon(ish)! #followthepaw
Saturday 15 September 20:16
PD Diesel posing with our latest police vehicle!
Saturday 15 September 20:15
Early walk down by the sea before work
Friday 17 August 14:22
More of PD Diesel in action - he’s one of our newest canine crimefighters!
All posts >
Friday 17 August 14:09
PD Diesel searching for firearms during training at Gatwick