Police Dog Training
(…Asby WI meets at last)
A beautiful sunny evening, the promise of a dog, and an opportunity to meet outside meant the July meeting of Asby WI was very well-attended by members and many guests. This was the first event for Asby WI since August 2020!
By kind permission of Louise and Steve Reeve, people met at High Plains, Drybeck, where Simon and Jackie Woodrow, with police dog Molly demonstrated aspects of police dog training.
Simon Woodrow, who began his working life as a policeman in Cumbria and then moved to Thames Valley Police, said that he had worked as a police dog handler for twenty years. He explained that the main ingredient in a dog’s training was fun, with plenty of praise and rewards thrown in. A potential police dog started training at about 8 months old with an emphasis on using its amazing sense of smell and an innate urge to protect. An especially good police dog may also have a ‘sixth sense’ and respond to events appropriately without direction if and when the need arose.
With Jackie Woodrow acting as a foil Molly was put through her paces and demonstrated tracking scents and traces on the ground, ‘tasting’ the wind to pick up a trail, finding a hidden person and alerting the handler by barking, and finding a hidden ‘body’ and then successfully leading the handler to the site.
The demonstrations were woven in between accounts of particular occasions when Simon’s dogs had been really successful or acted in interesting ways. As well being used in tracing and searching activities, the police dogs also acted as guard dogs and worked in public order situations. And their skills were still needed in search and rescue these days despite the almost universal ownership of mobile phones by folk out on the hills.
Asby WI President, Annie Johnson, thanked Simon, Jackie and Molly for the very special evening they had provided and invited those attending to join for refreshments prepared by Carol Smith and Helen Cooper.