Boo goes to meet working dogs Maicoh and Vinnie.

Today Boo goes to meet two working dogs – security dog Maicoh and young student dog, Vinnie. Maicoh is a GSD and the old timer of the duo who will be retiring soon and Vinnie is a Malinois x Dutch Herder who is just 10 months old and is learning the ropes with his handler and trainer Louise Swindlehurst.

Maicoh: Very nice to meet you Boo but I’m not sure why you are wearing dark glasses and an overcoat?

Boo under cover

Boo: I’m undercover  – my mum said your work is quite secret so I thought I ought to wear a disguise.

Vinnie: Yo! Love the glasses, just love those glasses – I’ve got to get me some!

Maicoh: Excuse my apprentice Boo he gets a little excited at times.  And no, Vinnie, you can’t have any, we don’t wear disguises for protection work.

Boo: Ok let’s get to the nitty gritty. I have some notes here. My mum says you are slovenly.

Maicoh: I beg your pardon!

Boo: Oh no, sorry, you’re Slovenian.  You come from Slovenia, yes?

Maicoh: Many years ago Boo, yes, but I’ve been working as a security dog for 10 years now.

Boo: So, you’re an experienced protection dog Maicoh, can you tell me a little bit about your work? I know a lot of it is ‘hush hush’ but can you give me an idea of what you do?

Louise in riot gear and Maicoh

Maicoh: I started work in the prison service Boo. My main job was to patrol the perimeter of the buildings and keep an eye out for anything untoward. Of course if I suspected something was amiss I’d tell my handler, Louise. I trust her implicitly and she knows I’ll watch her back too. Sometimes I would have to act a bit scary and bark and jump at a person to make sure they didn’t run off.  I still do something similar now, but in a different place. As you say Boo, its ‘hush hush’

Vinnie: I can’t wait to do patrols. I’m really good at barking and jumping up and running fast and …………

Maicoh:  Sigh! Give me strength. How I’m ever going to get this young pretender to channel his energies I don’t know!

Boo: It sounds like you need to be very focussed and be very in tune with your  handler, Louise. What do you call her, the boss lady?

Maicoh: Yes, I call her the boss lady. Work is work.  As soon as I put my on lead, I switch to another gear, but there’s lots of time for play and relaxing during our stand down time. And the great thing about being a working dog is you get to spend all your time with your human – work, rest and play – how many pet dogs can say they spend 24 hours a day with theirs?

Boo: Do you think Vinnie might stand still for a minute so I could ask him how his training is going?  Where do I find his off switch?

Maicoh: Hmmph, not sure Vinnie had one installed. Just nudge that ball towards him, he’ll come running – but get ready to duck, he’s not so good at putting on the brakes!

Boo: So Vinnie, you’re in training. What would you say you are good at?  Apart from running fast and jumping – I get that!

Vinnie: Umm, I’m good at solving problems.

Boo: Do you have many problems to solve?

Vinnie: Well, I’ll give you an example. I have my own pen – in my own room mind you – it’s where I try to chill out, but life is so exciting and there’s so much to learn. On the shelf, halfway up the wall, there’s a Collie.

Training with decoy person

Boo: Louise keeps a Collie dog on the shelf?

Vinnie: It never moved, so I didn’t think it was real. But it did look lonely up there so I figured out how to move my whole pen across the room, reach up – it was very high – and pull it down so I could keep it company! That took some thinking!

Boo: Wow! Was the boss lady impressed?

Vinnie: Umm, I’m still learning to understand human words but she said something that sounded like @$%^&*!

Vinnie with bite pad

Boo: I think we’ll move on swiftly. You love to train, so what are learning at the moment?

Vinnie: Well, Maicoh says that we sometimes have to chase after an intruder and disable them. We do that by jumping up and grabbing their arm and hanging on until we’re told to let go. I’m learning this at the moment, but I have to work with a pretend intruder who has lots of padding on their arm so I don’t hurt them.

Boo: Do you think I could have a go?

Vinnie: I’m not sure about that but you could have a go with my bite pad – its like a practice thing –  but you must remember to let go when the boss lady says. That the bit I find hard! I get lots of praise and playtime when I do it well though.

Boo: Gosh it’s a bit bigger than my tugger. I’ll thing I’ll leave the demo up to you Vinnie.

Maicoh: Cough, cough. Whilst my learned friend and the boss lady have a ‘conversation’ about the importance of not running off with the bite pad, I’ll finish with a few poses for your camera. Do you think this is my best side?

Boo: Hold still, that will make a great pic. Thank you Maicoh. And thank you Vinnie and Louise, I look forward to hearing about your progress.