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Sniffing out crime

Cara Loverock
Northern News Services
Published Friday, April 18, 2008

YELLOWKNIFE - Many are bred, but few are chosen.

Anouk, an 11-week-old German shepherd puppy, is being trained as part of the RCMP Police Dog Service in Yellowknife.

Const. Jason Muzzerall will be in charge of Anouk for one year as he prepares the pup for a life of police work.

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Yellowknife RCMP Const. Jason Muzzerall shows off his pup-in-training Anouk. The 11-week-old German shepherd is being trained for a life of crime fighting as a police dog. - Cara Loverock/ NNSL photo

"I try to train her everyday," said Muzzerall. "I'm training her as much as possible at this stage of the game."

After the puppy's initial year of training she will be assessed at a kennel and, if she is deemed qualified, she will go on to six months of training with her partner. In Canada roughly one in four trained pups make the cut to being a police dog.

If chosen, Anouk may not end up adding to the police dog team of one already working in the Northwest Territories.

"She could be going anywhere from Vancouver to Halifax," said Muzzerall.

Training for a police dog includes "enhancing" her natural instincts.

"Getting her used to as many different situations as possible is what we're working towards," said Muzzerall.

Only pure-bred German shepherds are chosen for this line of work and must possess certain personality traits such as the ability to go into different situations without hesitation, ability to track people, an even temperament and hunting instincts.

Muzzerall is also being tested for his dog training abilities, which may determine whether he will one day work with a fully-trained police dog. This is his first pup and he is expected to train at least two.

"They're not only assessing the dog, but my abilities to train the dog as well," he said.