Wednesday, 15 May 2024 - 3:21pm

'A tracking machine'

2 min read

News article photos (4 items)

Senior Constable Billy Hill  and Indo on a hill.
Senior Constable Billy Hill and Indo during a wet Bay of Plenty/Waikato Dog Trials.
Senior Constable Billy Hill
Senior Constable Billy Hill

If first impressions were anything to go by, Indo and Senior Constable Billy Hill didn’t have the makings of a successful paring.

Luckily for them, the duo managed to move beyond the initial 'issues' to become a formidable Bay of Plenty delta team over the past six years – a partnership that’s now ended with the retirement of Indo for health reasons.

“He was a tracking machine," says Billy. "We caught people I didn’t think we would ever catch.”

That drive to find people is still strong despite the health issues that have put paid to Indo's working career. As he eases into retirement, he’s still heading to work most days in the dog van, still wanting to be part of the crew.

Billy says the difficulties at the start of their paring came because his old dog was so hard and, while he says Indo wasn’t soft, he didn’t respond to the way Billy was handling him.

“I had to pull myself into the heel a bit and modify my training. I knew it was me, that I had to change. He wasn’t soft, he just didn’t respond to the way I was handling him. Once we found what worked we were away.”

On reflection, Billy says, Indo has had a stellar run.

A dogged track over two hours through metres-high blackberry in National Park is one of the highlights. The dense blackberry and a two-and-a-half hour time delay weren’t an obstacle as the determined dog tracked and apprehended two people for a range of offences after they dumped a stolen vehicle and went bush.

“That track and his efforts were really memorable.”

Another track through the Rotorua CBD, hunting some juveniles following a ram raid in Tokoroa, also has a firm spot in the highlights reel.

“That was probably the best track ever. I lost count of how many fences we went over and properties we went through. The young fella was a savvy offender and for us to actually get him, that was incredible.”

There were also occasions where Billy knew Indo had his back, including a time when a man on a synthetic cannabis-induced bender tried to “have a crack” – only to learn of Indo’s loyalty to his handler.

As well as tracking offenders, Indo was also a trained Search and Rescue (SAR) dog.

And in 2022, Indo and Billy's pairing was recognised at a national level, with the pair taking out third place in the National Police Patrol Dog Championships.

That work ethic continued even as Indo developed arthritis in his back legs, but Billy says the decision to retire him was an easy one, knowing how much pain he was in.

“I don’t even know how he was walking on them.”

While Billy has switched his sights to Ridge as a working dog, Indo will remain a big part of the family.

“He’s been a really good dog, and he’s just a really nice dog to have around home.”

Senior Constable Billy Hill and Indo walking away from the camera towards their dog van.