Two of our Wiltshire Police's most popular dogs bid a fond farewell last month and are now settling into retirement having devoted years to fighting criminals and protecting our communities.
Having clocked up almost 15 years of service between them, police dogs Tyke and Max have now stepped aside for the new pups in town.
PD Tyke has worked alongside PC Cindy Hargreave since he was licenced back in 2013. Now he has retired, he will continue living with PC Hargreave, who has just started training with a new puppy called Betty.
“My first shift with Tyke was an evening shift, and you always worry if the dogs will perform for real, like they do in training,” she said.
“We were lucky to get an early result as we attended a report of a burglary in progress at a pub in Swindon, where two men had been seen leaving the back of the pub and into woodland. I deployed Tyke for a straight chase and he secured one man some distance away. The man was arrested by officers and while we headed back to the pub for a search, Tyke dragged me into the undergrowth and started growling. He’d found the second offender.”
Not only has he had positive results when it comes to locating offenders, PC Hargreave describes Tyke as her life saver, after he protected her when a man charged at her with a petrol barrel while she was dealing with another man armed with an iron bar during an illegal rave.
“Tyke had seen the danger before I did, and he deployed onto the man’s arm, bringing him to the ground and holding him there until a support team arrived,” said PC Hargreave.
“He really did prevent me from receiving a very serious injury.
“Tyke is full of character. He’s goofy as well as being tenacious, he has the ability to be sociable but always switched nicely to being a Police Dog when required. He was a driven, determined and strong willed police dog, but most of all just wanted to please and work. Something which, now he’s retired, is not sitting well with him, especially when he has to stay at home when I go to work, but the welcome I get when I return home is the best.
“Tyke was the best team mate and partner I could ever have wished for.”
Also hanging up his harness for a well-earned rest is Police Dog Max, who worked alongside PC Tracy Doughty. She became his handler when he reached the age of four.
PC Doughty said: “During my first shift with Max we had a report of two men decamping from a car in Swindon. We attended and Max got on the scent straight away. Both men ran and Max chased one who sensibly gave up! The second man evaded us for a while but we found all the property he had dumped and then eventually found him.”
One of Max’s proudest moments as a police dog was locating offenders involved in a series of burglaries in Swindon, as well as receiving two awards where Max’s skills were pivotal to locating a suspect.
“Max has a very strong presence,” said PC Doughty.
“He’s a big boy with a few battle scars and a very big mouth. His bark is felt deep in your stomach. He has been challenging to work with but he's a big softy really, and I’ll miss his ‘verbal opinion’.
"He will remain living with me, and he is already loving being inside on the sofa. He’s looked after me, so it’s up to me now to do the same for him.”
Tyke’s replacement is PPD Betty, while Max will be replaced by PPD Rudi.
They are currently in training with PC Hargreave and PC Doughty and once they gain their licences, they will be out and about protecting the people of Wiltshire.