PC Andy Cotton arrived with his dog Dare on Thursday morning. He is a colleague and friend of PCSO Nicholson and a former PCSO before he trained as a dog handler
First we were on tenterhooks as just before 10am PC Andy thought he might have to respond to an incident, but he was able to stay and we were in for a treat! Questions and answers started the session. PC Andy has five dogs and two are family pets. One is a retired Police dog, the other a 15- week old puppy who is training as a Police Dog and Dare. Unfortunately, this week the Police puppy had fallen downstairs and had fractured its leg. Once mended it will be back to work for training.
We asked all about training and it is all based on positivity and reward. For example, to a puppy to sit, it is rewarded with a treat and at the same time a clicker sound is made. So as training progresses the dog knows that there will always be a reward involved. The dog is ready for new challenges; new challenges mean treats!
PC Andy told us that there were 12 dog handlers and a range of dogs for varying Police work; these include Spring Spaniels, German Shepherds, Belgian Shepherds and Labradors. PC Dare originated from a home where one of the dogs - a border collie - had been trained to dance. This dog had appeared on the first series of ‘Britain’s Got Talent.’ PC Dare had also been taught to dance and the dog showed its dancing skills on our school field!
PCSO Nicholson was immediately put to work and PC Dare managed to locate him just from his scent. PC Andy told us about the fantastic sense of smell a dog has. A human might smell a roast dinner whereas a dog will smell every bit: the peas, the carrots, the Yorkshire Pudding, the potato, the meat etc! The dog will follow the scent of one person. If that person tries to crisscross with another to hide their scent, the dog will remain on their tail, on their individual scent.
PC Andy reminded us that the dog is a canine PC and their as a canine colleague for its handler. The handlers get very attached to their dogs but they are working dogs. They get the best training, the best food and the best medical and dental treatment. They are regularly checked. The dogs are retired once they start to deteriorate as they age e.g. A dog might get a little bit of arthritis as it ages. The police dogs often retire with their handler.
Thankyou PC Andy Cotton, PC Dare and PCSO John Nicholson.