Father Daughter Breakfast

November 16, 2012 at 9:28 AM

It was an early start for the Parents and Friends and their team of helpers to prepare breakfast for 210 guests at this year’s sell-out Father and Daughter Breakfast. The school hall was filled to capacity as excited girls shared a special time-out with their Dads. The hall was carefully decorated in a black and white theme with the paw prints running across the table a clue as to who the special guests may be. We welcomed Police Dog handlers, Senior Constable Steve Pike and Sergeant Scott Williams, along with Phoenix, a young German Shepherd Police Dog recruit.

The New Zealand Police service has 21 dog teams comprising approximately 110 general purpose police dog teams as well as ten narcotic and three explosive detector dog teams. Police train German Shepherd dogs for a general purpose role and predominantly use Labradors for the specialist roles. German Shepherds are used because of their size, temperament and trainability. The type of dog the Police look for is one that is well socialised to people, places and things, is even-tempered and has a high retrieve drive. Half of the dogs Police train are gifted or bought from the public and with a $50,000 price tag, they are clearly carefully selected! The Dog Training Centre also has its own breeding programme which provides the remaining dogs needed.

At 18 months old, Phoenix was still playful but was also ready to respond to commands, with the bond between the dog and his master clear to see. Phoenix demonstrated his ability to search for an item by smell and respond from a distance.  The reward was a chance to play with a toy.

Many questions came from the floor and naturally, being a girls’ school, the girls wanted to know if there are any female dogs and female dog handlers. The officers joked that female dogs would take too long to get ready for work – but that they would listen better when they got there! But the truth had more to do with the sheer bulk of the male German Shepherds when called on in dangerous criminal situations. Likewise, not many women, or men for that matter, apply for the dog handler’s role, one that is physical, dangerous…and leaves you smelling like dog!

Our thanks go to the parents and staff who worked to make this happen, in particular Nicola Shearer, Deborah Higgins, Sarah Evangelidakis, Terri Tang, Rosie Piper and Julia Clancy. Our thanks also to Albert’s Kitchen on Remuera Road for the supply of croissants.

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