It’s a dog’s life for newest RCMP member | DrumhellerMail
Last updateFri, 19 Apr 2024 5pm

It’s a dog’s life for newest RCMP member

    The youngest member of the RCMP arrived at her new posting in Drumheller last week, and one day hopes to take a bite out of crime.
    Derbie, an eight week old German Shephard, is biding her time at the detachment under the guidance of Constable Rachel Pergunas. Derbie arrived on November 10 and the cuddly bundle of fur is certainly turning heads. Constable Pergunas assures inSide Drumheller it won’t be long until she begins to look a little more intimidating.
    Pergunas herself is a newer arrival in Drumheller, coming most recently from Banff.  This is the second dog she has helped raise and train. Her first dog Kailin is in service.
    The RCMP police dog program covers every detail of the process from breeding to training to service. The Innisfail facility is the national centre for the program. Pergunas explains the dogs are tested soon after they are born and graded on their very basic natural instincts. After that, they are graded continually throughout their development.
    Derbie will be with Pergunas for about a year. During this time, Derbie will live at her home. The dog will be socialized and come along with Pergunas during her day-to-day activities to experience of different environments and interactions.
    The dog will receive informal obedience training. She explains unlike typical dog training, Derbie will not be trained to be subservient to her master, rather she will be raised to be the dominant dog. Her basic instinctive traits of aggression, prey drive and tracking will be encouraged in a playful way.
    After her time in Drumheller is through, and if Derbie meets her developmental goals, she will be fully trained into a service dog at the Innisfail facility.
    Pergunas explains that all dogs are trained in apprehension and tracking. They will then be trained either in drug or explosives detection.
    Because the job can be demanding on the dogs, they have a working life of about 6-7 years with the RCMP.
    Derbie is a rarity, as most often male dogs are trained for service. Pergunas said Derbie scored high in her natural abilities. Time will tell if she makes the grade.
    There are not many female canine handlers either, but that is Pergunas’ goal.
    She said it is about a five-year commitment to become a handler and it includes raising the pups.
    Pergunas is grateful the detachment is supportive of raising Derbie as all of her work with the dog is volunteer, and it does take time.
    To become a handler there are intense physical requirements. In some cases, the handler may have to carry or lift the dog, and have to run the same gamut as the animal in the case of tracking.
    “You never know if it is going to be five minutes or three hours,” she said.
    Don’t be surprised to see Derbie about town. Pergunas said in the near future she will be introducing her to schools, and will be out and about on her beat.

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