July 29 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, March 15, 2014
A dog bred in South Norfolk which showed a natural talent for investigative work from birth has been named police dog of the year.
Fox red labrador retriever Amber was just eight weeks old when she was picked out by breeders Mark and Julie Watson for a life serving with Northumbria Constabulary after showing early promise for her bold and inquisitive nature.
Since then Amber - now three - has gone from strength-to-strength, helping to find evidence which may be crucial to resolving some cases.
The award was made at the Crufts dog show at the NEC in Birmingham.
Mrs Watson, who has regularly supplied dogs bred at her home in Shotesham to Northumbria Police for the past six years, said: “We watch them progress and the police trust us to pick them out. Some pups show a drive at a young age and have certain qualities.
“Amber was a very bold and busy pup and used her nose - they have to be able to use their noses, even at a young age. She was already starting to do that around the garden, so we could see her potential as a puppy.”
She was taken on by Northumbria Police shortly afterwards - but Mr and Mrs Watson still see her often and get regular updates from officers about her progress, for example travelling up to Sheffield to watch part of her training.
“She loves it,” Mrs Watson said.
“There are dogs that love to search and hunt where everything is a big game. With Amber, whether she’s search for DNA or something else, she is looking for her tennis ball reward. She’s just a diligent, thorough search dog.
“They have a really good life with the police.”
Dogs at the Watson family’s home in Shotesham are bred specifically to be good searchers.
Amber - whose sisters Tyne and Whizz are also police dogs at Northumbria - can expect to serve with the force until they are around 10 years old, although time can vary depending on each dog’s fitness.
After their service, police dogs often continue to be looked after by their handlers in retirement but sometimes return to the original breeder if the handler cannot carry on looking after them for whatever reason.
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