Kings RCMP Const. Nick MacLean holds Fez, left, the newest police pup to come to the area, and Elita, right, who returned to the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre in Innisfail, Alberta last week. – Wendy Elliott, www.kingscountynews.ca
Kings RCMP Const. Nick MacLean is now breaking in his second German shepherd pup. On Dec. 12, MacLean sent Elita, the dog he’d trained for a year, back to the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre in Innisfail, Alberta. The day before, he’d picked up fuzzy, young Fez.
MacLean says Elita “blew them out of the water” when tested at four, eight and 12 months.
“She’s a fantastic tracker,” he said of the 65-pound dog. MacLean worked intensely with Elita on tracking, heights and agility skills. She also had to learn when to be friendly and when to act aggressively.
“It’s been fun and rewarding,” MacLean said. He even built a piece of agility equipment in his backyard.
Initially, he rewarded Elita with hot dog slices, then his warm praise was enough to make her follow directions.
MacLean has been interested in the dog section for a long time, but all his training efforts are a volunteer activity.
He admitted it wasn’t easy to send Elita back to the centre last week. Her future is yet to be determined.
During his off time, MacLean will take Fez to places with crowds of people, like malls and schools, and places where there are other animals.
Children across the country submitted potential puppy names starting with ‘F’ this year. RCMP police service dogs are an integral part of front-line policing. They track and apprehend criminals, remove illicit drugs from the streets and search for and recover articles as well as people.
The Innisfail depot is the national training centre for all RCMP police dog teams. Currently, there are 131 German shepherd police dog teams and 24 specialty dog teams that detect narcotics or explosives. Eighty-five per cent of the German shepherds working as RCMP service dogs were born at the centre as part of the RCMP police dog breeding program.