A couple of weeks ago I packed the camera gear for a trip up to Wakefield in Yorkshire for the annual Fireside K9 event. For those of you that don’t know who Fireside K9 are, they are a charity that has been set up to support West Yorkshire Police Dog Handlers to pay for any treatment, veterinary needs of retired police dogs. Currently these wonderful dogs when they are retired from the police force, many go to live with their handlers, who receive no further financial contribution to the care of the police dog.
Personally, I think we should go down the route of police forces in other countries who give the police dog a pension when they are retired to help fund insurance, medical needs, etc. These dogs give so much helping to keep people safe on the streets and they deserve the support later because sometimes the financial implications mean that the Officer who has the retired police dog is unable to meet the medical bills of his/her former partner. These dogs are highly trained and some get injured during the line of duty, which no doubt impacts on their health later resulting in more costly medical needs than the average family dog.
To help raise funds Fireside K9 host a public event in the lovely surroundings of the National Trust’s Nostell Priory. It’s an event not just to raise funds, but also to allow police dogs and their handlers from West Yorkshire and surrounding forces to compete for a Trophy in a competition of obedience skills and criminal work. It really is a fantastic event, showing not just the hard work that goes into training the dogs, how amazing they are in the role that they have, but also the bond that has been built between dog and handler. Like a few of the officers have said to me, “They’re not just dogs, they are our partners and our family” Below are some photos which confirms the love and respect and I feel privileged to have not only witnessed this, but having captured it. It truly makes being a dog photographer a wonderful thing, capturing a feeling not just a photo.
The dogs did also get down to serious business, below are some photographs shot during the morning competition of Obedience, which consisted of heel work, distance control and agility to name a few.
There was also a couple of humorous moments, as the dogs aren’t used to doing this work with people and their dogs standing close by watching. Not quite the same as dealing with a noisy crowd which needs controlling.
The afternoon was Criminal Work, which is always fun to watch, not so much fun for the guys who volunteered to be criminals and get bitten by the dogs. A number of scenarios are undertaken during this exercise, including a gun attack, emergency recall and weapon attack to name a few. It was very interesting to know that if you stand completely still the dogs are trained not to attack you, but stay by the suspect until the officer arrives. Below are some shots taken of this work.
It really does make you realise how vitally important Police Dogs are to help the work undertaken by Officers up and down the country. They are able to locate and detain a suspect faster than an officer on 2 legs, with their noses they can spot things that we are unable to. It’s not always criminal work they do, as some of the dogs have also been able to locate people who have gone missing. We really do owe them a peaceful and relaxing retirement.
I’d like to say a big Thank You to Fireside K9 and also the officers who competed from North Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Lancashire Constabularies. You really did put on a fantastic display and it was a pleasure to be able to photograph and capture the work that you all do together. I look forward to the next event and meeting up with you all.
Also, if you would like to look at the rest of the photos by police dog or order any of the photos via the on-line gallery they can be found HERE