Wellington Dog Section is mourning the passing of its patriarch, Patrol Dog (ret) Ike.
Ike, who was in his 13th year, was a frontline veteran and fearless catcher of bad guys - but he also charmed young and old alike on visits, displays and parades.
He died on Sunday (5 January) after enjoying his usual morning walk. He was retired from frontline duties and lived with Senior Sergeant Mark Davidson, O/C Wellington Dog Section. His health had been failing.
“He’ll be greatly missed,” says Mark.
Ike was bred at the Dog Training Centre at Trentham and was assigned to Constable Andrew ‘Junior’ Douglas for training in 2009.
They graduated as operational team in 2010 and worked together until Ike's retirement from frontline duties in 2016.
They enjoyed great operational success and became well known to viewers of the reality TV series Dog Squad.
As well as their many catches, they featured in the dramatic nighttime rescue of a man trapped on a ledge after falling from the clifftop at Makara Beach. Junior and fellow handler Tony Milner received Royal Humane Society Bronze Medals for the rescue.
Junior and Ike’s great partnership was reflected in their third placing at the 2012 and 2015 police dog national championships.
Away from the front line Ike was also a champ - Junior taught him a variety of tricks which helped make Ike a favourite with the crowds at public events, particularly when he performed dressed in a superhero outfit or dog-sized rugby jersey.
In November 2013 Ike underwent surgery for a spinal injury. “It makes it all the more significant that he had three more years of demanding frontline work after this, including getting third place in the nationals,” says Junior.
After retiring, Ike continued to enjoy an active life with Mark, accompanying him to work and chalking up no fewer than 83 appearances at displays and visits to schools, retirement villages and other groups. He was back in the superhero outfit for Pride parades in Wellington and Auckland.
When a dog was needed to model the Mako harness on its introduction to Police, it was Ike who flew over the obstacle course wearing one. When a prototype dog van was developed, there was Ike, happily popping in and out to demonstrate its features.
Junior says he will be sorely missed. “He was a fantastic dog and a lot of people who knew him will feel like they’ve lost a friend.”
Mark says Ike was a great example of the success of Police's approach to training dogs. "The number of people involved in Ike’s life reflect the holistic nature of our pup development and dog training programme,” he says.