Former Edinburgh shelter dog becomes latest police recruit

PD Bear, the police dog who sniffs out drugs. Picture: Greg Macvean
PD Bear, the police dog who sniffs out drugs. Picture: Greg Macvean
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His hyper nature and built-in love of a tennis ball have made chocolate labrador “Bear” more than just a lovable pet.

The two-year-old pooch has just joined the ranks of Police Scotland’s Edinburgh division, becoming the ideal candidate to help cops sniff out anything from cannabis to heroin.

PC Julie Roy with the latest police recruit, PD Bear. Picture: Greg Macvean

PC Julie Roy with the latest police recruit, PD Bear. Picture: Greg Macvean

So suited to his new role, experienced dog handler PC Julie Roy said he didn’t need to undertake the standard training course.

“Normally training lasts eight weeks but he’s not been on a course because he came to me and I am an experienced handler and I’ve had a drugs dog before so I was able to do bits of training here and there when I was on shift,” PC Roy explained.

“He’s so smart and picked it up so quickly that it was felt there wasn’t a need for him to go on a course.”

As with many police dogs, Bear was donated to the force.

Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home contacted Police Scotland about gifting Bear to the dog department after his previous owners found his energetic and boisterous character too much for life in a flat.

PC Roy said: “They contacted us to look at him because he as so ball driven. It is the main thing the dogs need be – ball mad. They have to want to search for the ball all day long.

“I went out to see how much he searched for the ball and he was just wanting to look all day.

“We would expect a dog suitable to work for us to want to look even when the ball isn’t there, and that’s what Bear did – he’s ball daft.”

With nearly 11 years as a police dog handler, PC Roy said stamina and “a little bit of crazy” make for ideal police dogs.

Describing Bear’s personality she said: “Bear is a little bit crazy but that’s perfect for a police dog as we need a little bit of crazy – you don’t want a dog that’s just going to lie about inside all day. When they’re too much for someone in the house, they can make perfect police dogs.

“We need these dogs to work and they could be working for long periods in quite warm environments when we’re searching houses, so stamina is also important.

“Although you can build on that, they need to have the drive to want to work and continue to work. You can’t have a dog that wants to just lie down in front of the fire and say ‘I’ve had enough’.

“Bear loves to work and really enjoys what he does.

“Gun dog breeds such as spaniels and labradors are ideally suited for specialist dog roles because they’re bred to work all day and also use their nose. They use it to hunt for the birds they’re looking for so it’s a natural ability for them.”

After being officially tested on all controlled drugs, Bear was officially licensed on Wednesday and is now also in training to detect firearms and cash.

When he gets his first bust, he’ll stop and stare at the narcotics. “Ultimately what he’s doing is looking for his ball,” PC Roy explained. “He’s freezing and saying that’s the smell that produces my ball.”

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