Winners of 'Public Choice' Award

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Fully Fledged Police Dog Mambo

We had a great time on holiday in Croatia, a place I’d recommend to anyone. It’s beautiful place, great people and more importantly we had a great chance to relax and unwind in the glorious heat. 36/37 was the order of the days – I absolutely love the heat!!

Whilst we were away Mambo was coming to the end of his initial course – an initial course which did get delayed slightly due to the weather, holidays and illness. However, once we were back we found out that Mambo passed his license.
Fully fledged PD Mambo

It’s a fantastic feeling knowing all of the hard work, time and effort we’ve put into the dog has paid off. It’s what makes what we do so rewarding. It’s on days like this you don’t ever really remember the heartbreak of having to hand him back in after he'd been part of our family for nearly 12 months.
After they leave us, the dogs go onto a 12 week licensing course where they learn how to be Police Dogs. The stuff we do with them teaches them how to behave, how to find someone or something and how to bite etc – what we can never do is try and recreate real life scenarios as to what they will expect on the street. To some degree not even an initial course can do that – you certainly wouldn't see a dog being smashed over the head with a glass bottle or kicked as hard as you can in the face.
During the 12 week period, I’m on tender hooks. Even though I’m 99.999% sure they’ll make it, until they’ve passed that license test I’m always nervous. Every time I see a call come in from the Training Centre your heart goes a little faster. . has something happened? Fortunately, it's never been the case (*frantically touch lots of wood!*)
So I’m now absolutely delighted to see Mambo as a fully fledged working Police Dog, but I’m certainly not going to sit here and take all of the credit for him making it.
It’s a massive test for any handler to take on a new dog. Naturally there may be comparisons with their last dog – who quite possibly would have been partnered for a long time. Similarly it could be the very first dog the handler has ever had, so with that comes all sorts of pressure & new experiences. There’s also a need for the handler to bond with a new dog, and there’s no guarantee that they will get on. There’s so many dynamics to match up – so I’m delighted that everything clicked into place and Mambo and his handler managed to get through the course.
Mambo actually joined his handler fairly unexpectedly after his dog suffered an injury which meant he had to retire. Mambo was partnered with his handler and they joined an initial course straight away - the course already had been running for 2 weeks. They didn’t have any time pre-course to bond or for his handler to learn about his traits & mannerisms. So I think he’s done a remarkable job getting Mambo through his course. The initial course is a Monday-Friday environment, but I know that Mambo & his handler were out training together at the weekends. It’s tremendous dedication from his handler to do that.
We’ve been really lucky with our dogs – every single one of them has gone on to become fully fledged Police Dogs and have had really great working lives. It’s great to hear what they get up to and what great jobs they've done. We’re also really lucky that we still get to see them all – every one of them still remembers us too. We have a really good relationship with all of the handlers who have our pups – they really have been fantastic people. We really appreciate the time they take in keeping us posted on their adventures – it really does mean a lot to us.
Mambo catching up with his uncle PD Usha

Whenever the dogs are in kennels they always let us know – and we’ll make special visits to the kennels to take them out for walks etc. We will very often meet up with our old dogs and their handlers and go for walks too.
In some ways though, being so close means you also get to hear a few of the bad stories – like hearing about jobs they’ve been too where they’ve been bottled or kicked etc. It makes me mad to think someone has bottled ‘my’ dog!!
It’s always difficult when we let our pups go, but the one thing that gets us through it, is the fact we know they’re going to work with someone who will not only become their work colleague but their best friend. We know the dog will be looked after & loved unconditionally. The bond between a working dog and their handler is remarkable – almost unexplainable. They spend every day together, there's no such thing as a dog handler being 'off duty' because they're always responsible for their working dog, and ultimately they both put their lives on the line for each other. You just don’t get that sort of bond with your pet dog.
 I always know that no matter what, the bond between our pups and their handler will be unconditional and I know that they wouldn’t let any harm come to the dog if it could be helped.
There’s a famous saying amongst handlers...

“One good way to upset a handler is to hurt his dog & one good way to upset a dog is to hurt his handler”
We always put together a little something to give to our pup’s new handler once they’ve ‘passed out’ of their initial course. We always give them a USB stick of all of the photo’s & videos we’ve taken over their puppyhood, along with a photobook of some of their best pictures. Every single handler has really appreciated this.

Looking back over the photo's and videos it's sometimes hard to remember just how small they were - and with Mambo he was extra special. He was the 'runt' of the litter - he had to be hand reared after the mum rejected the pups as babies. I picked Mambo because he was the smallest - on a Volhard test he would have been one of the weaker scorers, however I LOVE a challenge! I remember the first day I picked him up - everyone said he looked like a kitten let alone a future Police Dog.

Mambo being hand fed & him looking like a kitten

The other thing I liked about Mambo was that everything he did was at 1,000 miles an hour, which matches my personality - I just can't operate at anything less than 1,000 miles an hour. I remember people looking at him and thinking he was too small, but he's the quickest dog I've ever seen - no one will outrun him and when he hits you, it's almost at 1,000 miles an hour too!

So we’ll wait with great anticipation to hear about Mambo’s first job – it’s when you really appreciate he’s now a ‘real’ working Police Dog doing a ‘real’ job out on the streets.

Good luck to PD Mambo!!