They’ll be barking up a storm at Sadlon Arena in Barrie as canine dogs and their handlers gather for national bragging rights.
The 2023 National Police Dog Championship is taking place in Barrie and the public is invited to a pair of free canine demonstration shows on Saturday, Sept. 9, at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.
The competitors include OPP Constable Melissa Pirie and her four-year-old K9 partner Tytan. Pirie made history in 2021 when she and two others became the first female K9 handlers in the OPP. This will be her first national competition.
“It’s being with other handlers and competing against each other,” says Pirie. “We all have different assets and our dogs work in different ways. It’s our ability to show what we can do to help our communities.”
The canine teams will be participating in a tracking component such as criminal apprehension and article search, and there will also be drug dogs and explosive detection dogs.
For Barrie Police Constable Matt Abofs, this will be his second competition, and he will be with K9 partner Radar. Win or lose, the dog always gets something special.
“They get their toy, which is the most important thing to them,” says Abofs. “That’s really how we train them. All the events are a simulation of what they would do operationally. We are being judged by very experienced canine trainers and canine handlers.”
The opportunity to see police dogs in action is something Abofs says is not an every day occurrence for the public “unless you have been lost or are a wanted person.”
Pirie says the public will be entertained and hopefully take with them the important relationship the handlers have with their K9 buddies.
“I think they will see the kind of partnership that we have. We are responsible for these dogs and they are with us 24-7. The bond that we have, and the control and obedience we have with these dogs. I think it is quite remarkable. Just for the public to see the relationship we have and the help we can give to our communities.”
Banner image: OPP Constable Meissa Pirie/K9 partner Tytan, Barrie Police Constable Matt Abofs/K9 partner Radar