Winners of 'Public Choice' Award

Friday, 27 February 2015

Where's Ted?

Those readers who have followed us on Twitter for a long time will know there's been a whole host of different puppies who've taken up the iPaw to Twoof about their journey from puppy to Police Dog, however never before has one pup received the reaction we got when young Ted took over the Twoofing!

Photo by @brumnewsphotos

To say he's been an internet sensation would be an understatement!! In fact right from the moment they were born, Ted & his family were in the news . . . .

First Litter of Sprockers for West Midlands Police

I really can't put my finger on what was so special about Ted to make him such a media sensation, however it's clear that in the short time he was here at #puppytowers he reached out to so many people in such a positive way.

We'd seen Ted at just a week old & had been checking on the litter constantly. Ted always was my pick of the litter. From the very first time I saw them moving around, I knew Ted was going to be special!

Olympia & the T litter

As you probably know we had Ted as part of the Puppy Walking programme with West Midlands Police. Those of you who want to know more about Puppy Walking generally can do so by reading our Blog on "Police Puppy Walking"

As a Puppy Walker it's our job to put the foundations into the puppy's in their journey to becoming licensed Police Dogs. We've been developing puppies for close to 10 years now, so we like to think that we know what we're doing when it comes to turning puppies into Police Dogs. We've never had a dog fail in all the time we've been doing it. It's a record we're extremely proud of & work extremely hard to maintain.

The question we get asked most when we develop pups is "How do you give them up?" and we very often ask ourselves the very same thing.

In the 10 years we've been developing puppies, we'd like to say it gets easier to pass them over but it definitely doesn't!

I'm sure every puppy walker up & down the country will agree, whether it's puppy walking for the Police, Guide Dogs or any organisation, despite all the hard work of bringing up & developing a puppy only to give them away, the buzz you get when you see the hard work come to fruition is hard to explain.

When we heard Izzy had caught her first criminal, on her first ever shift of nights, it was such a brilliant feeling. The hours we spent out training in the dark, the hours of walking around all kinds of weird places as part of her environmental training had all paid off!

Her job even hit the major news outlets! "Rookie Police Dog Izzy help arrest of suspected burglar"

Police Dog Izzy
The work volunteers do as puppy walkers is amazing. Anyone reading this Blog who is or has been a puppy walker should feel immensely proud of what they have done. Quite frankly without the dedication of people like you, many dog organisations would not exist - certainly many Police Dog sections!

Members of the public give up their free time, get up in the middle of the night to sort out the baby puppies when they're crying, constantly clean up dog accidents in their homes, have their garden's ruined, their days disrupted, have their arms, legs and bodies nipped by puppies, constantly have to arrange their days so the pups aren't left for too long, not to mention the financial expense people suffer - the list could go on!

Puppy Walkers
These people do a fantastic job to support organisations and at West Midlands Police they have a group of fantastic puppy walkers, who do the hardest part of any police dog's training. I know I'd rather be training a 12 month old dog, than having to get up at 2am to sort a puppy out or having to plan my day to ensure that a puppy isn't left for too long.

One of the things I loved about having pups like Izzy & Bandit at 5 months old, was the fact that all of the hard work had already been done. Someone else had endured sleepless nights, clearing up dog accidents, pounding random places for environmental work etc etc. I just got to have fun training them!

Many of our followers on Twitter have been asking "Where's Ted? so we thought we'd just give everyone a proper update on things, rather than trying to squeeze the odd bit of information into 140 characters on Twitter.

Where's Ted?

Ted joined us here at Puppy Towers on 3rd October & off we went to the beautiful countryside of Wales to spend some time bonding with our new recruit.

Ted enjoying the beach in Wales
I always say to anyone getting a dog that the most important time is the first couple of weeks. It's absolutely crucial, whether you're getting a baby puppy or an older dog, to spend the maximum amount of time with your new dog as possible in the first couple of weeks.

Building a bond with your dog is the most crucial thing you need to do and this takes time. You need to spend time with your dog to build a strong bond.

From day one, Ted was a dream to have around the place. He was like our shadow!

Ted cuddles

It had been a while since we'd had a baby puppy here at #puppytowers. Our last few dogs had been older dogs who'd come to us for a bit of development work & we'd had a couple of short term dogs to give them a break from kennels, so I was really looking forward to working with a baby dog again.

Those of you who followed Ted's journey on Twitter will have seen all of the various things we got up to. Whilst he was with us the most important thing for his development, was ensuring he has a really strong & sound environmental base. He even got to meet Karen Pryor at the very first UK Clicker Expo!!

Ted at the Clicker Expo
A strong 'environmental base' means that the pups are confident within any environment, whether it be in dark small rooms or big crowded buildings. So we take the pups to a whole host of disused buildings al the way through to venues like the NEC - as you will have seen from our trip to the Autosport Show, where once again Ted stole the show!

Ted in the Caparo T1

There's lots of talk around 'socialisation' when it comes to puppies, however I really try to avoid describing what we do as 'socialising' because it creates confusion around what it actually means for dogs. You can check out our "Dog Socialisation" Blog to learn more about this topic.

So after building the foundations in the puppies, it's time for them to start their journey towards becoming a licensed Police Dog.

Those of you who followed the stories of our General Purpose (GP) puppies, you will have seen that we kept the pups until they were around 10-14 months old. However with the specialist dogs, there's isn't as much for them to do in terms of their final jobs.

When you think about the variety of tasks a GP dog has to carry out it's so wide ranging that there's a big emphasis on their development work. Their temperament needs to be top notch & their skills need to be honed to a wide range of tasks including biting, tracking, searching, obedience etc etc. With a specialist search dog, there's just one thing they need to do . . . . . . . . .search. Hence why they are called specialist dogs.

The very definition for specialist is "a person highly skilled in a specific and restricted field." In this instance it's a dog highly skilled in a specific & restricted filed.. . . .searching!

Ted honing his skills

The foundation work for a specialist dog is much the same as you'd do with any other puppy. They need to have a really, really solid environmental base and as long as they are environmentally stable i.e they will work in any location/situation, and as long as they have drive for their toy, it's pretty much job done.

Once the pups have demonstrated their ability in these areas they are ready to move onto the next level.

All we really had to do with Ted was give him a good environmental base & ensure he loved his toy. And anyone who followed him on Twitter or saw him out & about will know he was totally obsessed with his Kong!!!

Ted with his Kong obsession
I always wondered how people could say that they've puppy walked a million dogs but now I know why. Ted's the puppy we spent the least amount of time with. With all of the GP dogs we had a good 10+months with them. With Ted, we were lucky to get a good 10+ weeks with him! There's a much bigger turnover with the specialist dogs.

There was quite a few people who told me that I'd get bored having a specialist puppy and to some extent they were right. However, it was a nice change to be able to take a puppy for a walk & not have to worry about having to train a variety of different exercises, and let's face it spaniels are bred to search so there's not a huge amount you need to do to develop their natural instincts in that regard!

That said, I do miss having a puppy to train for a multi disciplined role. I loved working with Izzy & getting her upto the standard of dog we did with her. I still get this when I'm training other people's dogs, but there's no real substitute for having your own puppy who you can completely mould to your own desires.

So, having put the crucial foundations into Ted, it's now time for him to continue his journey towards becoming a licensed Police Dog.

Photo by @brumnewsphotos

Ted's gone to live with a handler to spend time bonding with him & to start learning to recognise the different scent's he'll need to find when he becomes a licensed Police Dog. There's lots of different substances that Ted needs to learn to recognise and given that they are controlled & dangerous substances, he can only do this sort of work with his new handler. We're hoping Ted progresses to become a really good explosive search dog & I'm sure if things don't work out as a Police Dog he's got the perfect foundation for a career in the world of media!!!

In fact there's a few things we're working on 'Ted' related at the moment, so watch this space . . .

We'll try & keep everyone posted with Ted's progress, however, sadly we don't always get to hear how our pups are getting on. Everyone is so busy with their jobs, it's hard to keep constant track on what our pups are getting up to once they become Police Dogs. That said, we do keep in touch with a few of our pup's handlers, as you will have seen from our catch ups with dogs like Cooper & Usha!

Our old pup PD Cooper meets Ted
We just want to say a BIG thank you to everyone who followed Ted on Twitter, he was an internet sensation and we're glad Ted could bring you all a smile every now & again. A special big thank you also goes to the wonderful team at the Central Motorway Policing Group who adopted Ted as their official mascot! His most shared picture on social media was this one with their motorway car. I seem to remember that his picture reached nearly 500,000 people thanks to Twitter/Facebook & various other internet sites! It's a scary thing the world of the internet!!

Ted's most famous photo

At the request of many of Ted's followers we're going to be posting a picture of Ted every morning under the hastag #Tedday - keep your eyes peeled for some unseen Ted pics!! We're not sure how long we'll run it for, I'm sure the demand won't falter!!

Having Ted was great & being able to share his journey was a real pleasure. We miss having him around, he was such a character and was a great pup to have about the place. We had some great fun with him!!

Ted driving the CMPG BMW X5

As soon as we hear anything about his progress, Ted's army of Twitter followers will be the first to know . . . . .