On their first day on the job together, Sgt. Mike Quinn and new canine partner Odin were called into action.
Responding to a break-and-enter call near the York University campus, they rushed to the location and apprehended three suspects.
“I guess this was sort of a dream start for us,” said Quinn. “You do all the rigorous and extensive training and the adrenaline is flowing as you get that first call. That was good, in a sense, because we didn’t have to sit around and wait too long to see how we would work together. Everything went well and we got the job done.”
Born in the Czech Republic, Odin is a two-year-old German shepherd.
He and Jango – another German shepherd handled by Const. Brian Andrews – officially graduated for general purpose detail on February 7.
Quinn and Andrews, who both enjoy working outdoors with animals, were in the same Toronto Police Service graduation class 17 years ago.
Andrews is an experienced dog handler, having worked for five years with Ozzy, who is now retired and enjoying retirement at the Andrews’ family home.
“Ozzy has his pillow and toy and is relaxing at home,” said Andrews, who worked at 54 Division and with the Integrated Guns & Gangs Task Force before being assigned to Police Dog Services. “He loved his job and it’s time for him to lay back and enjoy life… Jango is new to the Service, so we had to learn about each other and that’s a lengthy process. Ozzy is one of those perfect dogs in that he was serious when he was on the job and when we got home, he was just a normal dog. The dogs here are trained properly so they can go from one extreme to the other.”
The most difficult part for me was reading the dog’s body language and trying to understand the basic dog psychology. I was the student and he taught me how to react and be successful with whatever exercise we were doing.
Quinn, who has a pet dog at home, said the training was the most challenging he has endured since he joined the Service.
“It was exhausting physically and mentally,” he pointed out. “The most difficult part for me was reading the dog’s body language and trying to understand the basic dog psychology. I was the student and he taught me how to react and be successful with whatever exercise we were doing. It was long course and I learned a lot and had a great time.”
Starting at 23 Division, Quinn worked in the Sex Crimes Unit and was assigned to 31 Division after he was promoted. He also was a TAVIS rapid-response team member prior to joining Police Dog Services.
“This was something I wanted to do and it took a while before I got here,” he said. “It was, however, worth the wait.”
Established in 1989, Police Dog Services occupy a six-acre facility sandwiched between the Don Valley Parkway and the Don River where the dogs and their handlers train and are dispatched for duty.
Training section chief instructor Sgt. Paul Caissie said the training is mentally and physically demanding.
“The profiles are many in that the handlers have to learn with the dogs how to track human scent, area search, obedience, aggression and article evidentiary search,” he said. “There are a number of profiles that have to be covered over that minimal four-month course. I would suggest it’s the most demanding course that the Service has and it takes a strong person and dog to surmount that.”