WATCH: Many wondered what would happen to the four-legged officer, but now we know Danny will stay in service. As Global’s Sarah Offin reports, he’s headed back to Alberta for training.
Danny the dog will continue to serve with the RCMP following the shooting deaths of three officers last week.
One of the most touching and memorable moments from the regimental funeral for the three fallen officers on Wednesday was Danny whimpering as he sat beside the coffin of his partner Const. Dave Ross.
Mounties released a statement on Wednesday — exactly one week after Ross and Constables Fabrice Gevaudan and Douglas Larche were killed in a shooting rampage in Moncton — saying Danny, a German Shepherd, will be retrained and continue with the police service.
Ross’ wife, Rachael Ross, said “it wouldn’t be fair to Danny to retire him,” because he loved what he did and loved his fallen handler.
“Anytime Danny barked at home, it would be to get Dave to open the truck door so they could go to work,” she said in the statement.
Mounties said Danny is grieving his handler whom he began interacting with in 2008, at the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre in Innisfail, Alta.
As dog and handler, Danny and Ross began their formal training at the centre on April 22, 2013 and Danny became a service dog on Aug. 30 of last year.
That means Danny had less than a year officially on the job with Ross when the 32-year-old lost his life in the line of duty.
RCMP dogs don’t often switch handlers, but it has happened in other situations — usually because the handler has retired or left the dog service program.
Mounties will have to find a new handler for Danny. After that, the dog will have develop a bond with the new handler and go through a three-week process to “confirm the new team meets the standards established by the RCMP.”
But, Danny’s partnership with Ross won’t be forgotten.
“Danny is trained to work,” Mounties said in the statement. “Danny’s bond with Dave will always be there. If not for Dave recognizing Danny’s skills, he would never have had the opportunity to serve Canadians, something he will continue to do with pride and dedication.”
Police dogs more than just work partners
Halifax Regional Police Const. Jamie Cooke understands the bond Danny would have had with Ross.
“It’s really hard to put into words the type of relationship Vinny and I have,” he told Global News on Wednesday.
“We spend 24/7 together. He comes home at the end of the shift and socializes with my family. He sleeps in the bedroom at night… and then the next morning he gets up at 4:30 with me and goes back to work,” said Cooke who met Vinny when the dog was only a year old.
They’ve been partners for the past four years, during which time they’ve handled everything from weapons complaints to search and rescue operations.
“Because Vinny and I spend all our time together, he can read my mind and I can read his,” Cooke explained. “He can communicate with me just with his eyes and I can do the same.
“It’s a unique bond that we have [with police dogs]… that helps the officers go home safe at night and helps me go home safe to my family.”
Halifax RCMP Cpl. Rick Mosher agreed. He’s been working with the K9 unit for 24 years and is partnered with his sixth dog, Stinger.
“He listens to everything that I say. … He’s ready to go before I am,” Mosher told Global News.
Police service dogs work for an average of eight years. Stinger is just about at that point.
But Mosher won’t be moving on to another dog.
“I guess timing is everything. I timed his retirement the same as mine,” he said. “I’m going [at] the end of June and Stinger is going to retire as well and he’ll be going with me.”
With files from Natasha Pace
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