Meet the police dog academy's latest graduates

It was a big day for Icon, Ezro, Hitch, Nua, and Mint - and their proud handlers of course.

The five police dogs have graduated from their gruelling training and are ready for active duty.

"We train them to do all manner of things - from tracking, to bite work, obedience, searching people, bush work - the whole lot, "says Inspector Todd Southall, the Police Dogs National Co-ordinator.

The road to graduation isn't easy, and not every dog makes it.

"The ones we breed here, we look at only 50 percent of them making, 'cause that's the standard that we have to have these dogs at. If they don't make it, we can't put them through," Insp Southall says.

The puppies are bred at the Police Dog Training Centre in Trentham. At around nine weeks, they'll be put into foster families, and at around nine months assigned a handler. Then, between 16 and 20 months the dogs could be having their very own graduation ceremony.

A dog sniffs the camera.
The dogs are quite inquisitive. Photo credit: Newshub.

The top dogs that do make it through can expect to remain in active duty for around seven to eight years, barring injury.

For Hawke's Bay Police Constable Cam Gunn, Ezro is his sixth dog.

"It is hard - you certainly form a bond with each other, you do a fair bit of stuff together. Letting them go is never easy," he says.

But it's a new experience for Constable Kurt Stephenson of Christchurch Police, and a lifelong dream.

He gave up a scholarship to study viticulture at university to become a dog handler ten years ago, and Mint is his very first graduated pooch.

"It's really tough work. We've worked together and we've had our ups and downs, but we've made it here today and I'm stoked!" he says.

Dog and microphone.
The dogs did not have much to say when interviewed. Photo credit: Newshub.

Today's graduates are based all over the country, from Hawke's Bay to Christchurch - which presents some logistical challenges.

"People often ask who the barking dog is on the plane, you just sit there and say nothing," says Const Stephenson.

"He's on the bottom of the plane and barking away, having a chat to himself."

The canine clearly very excited for his big moment.


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