One day after they took top dog honours at the Canadian Police Canine Association Trials in Vancouver, Const. Kelly Lang and his dog Fozzy were back on the beat in Edmonton helping to arrest a man accused of stabbing an LRT commuter.
The countless hours of training over the past four years that formed an inseparable bond between man and dog produced the desired result. The suspect was taken into custody.
That bond is something the entire canine unit clearly shares, based on accolades alone.
For the past four years, an Edmonton Police Service canine unit handler and dog has won the nation’s top award for service dogs, stretching back to when Const. Murray Burke and Maverick picked up the title in 2015.
Const. Jason Ellett and Robbie won in 2016, followed by Const. Nick Leachman and Finn in 2017.
“It gives us a baseline foundation as to how we are doing amongst the rest of the nation,” Lang said.
“It does give a person individual bragging rights but it allows us to rank the program. We still have to push the envelope and develop better ways to train to get the most out of our dogs and the teams.”
Lang, a 12-year police veteran and a five-year member of the canine unit, said the success of the unit was based on an open mindset and “willingness to not feel comfortable.”
And while Lang and Fozzy may have won top honours, three other teams — Const. Brian Parker and Larry, Const. Scott Mitcheler and Jack and Const. Wade Eastman and Evan — placed in the top five overall.
“To have a single agency able to win it four years with four different teams, it speaks volumes to how your program is progressing and how well the unit is doing as a whole,” Lang said.
“We have excellent trainers who keep pushing our boundaries and testing our limits.
“It’s not only the dog you are testing, it’s the teamwork, because sometimes the dog may not necessarily see something. At the end of the day it’s a team that is being reviewed.”
But things haven’t always been so harmonious between Lang and Fozzy.
When they were originally paired up, Fozzy had already been with another handler for about six months.
“We’ve grown into each other and figured out our idiosyncrasies … there was some growing pains for the first little while,” Lang laughed.
“But he’s my guy.”