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History of the working dog
History of the working dog
The exact origin of the dog, a remarkable animal that has served mankind in a number of capacities for centuries, is unknown. Moreover, just when humans first tamed the wild dog is not certain. It is known that over a long period of time people have taken advantage of the intelligence and loyalty of these marvelous creatures. Anthropologists have made discoveries that dogs resembling the present German Shepherd were used as long as 8,000 years ago.
Over the years, various breeds were born and man developed these breeds for a variety of reasons. Certain physical traits were developed for specific jobs. As an example, the Saluki, bred for hunting in rocky, mountain country is particularly adept at hurtling, dodging and turning while maintaining speed. In contrast, most hounds are adept at using their short legs for digging in the ground for prey. It is reasonable to say that it is due to mans greater knowledge of genetics and heredity that all breeds today are superior, both physically and mentally as those of years ago.
Dogs have served humans well. Humans first used dogs to help catch food and help protect their caves. Dogs were also useful for guarding flocks. Humans, discovering that dogs could provide diversions, pitted dogs against one another in racing events and against each other or against other animals in tests of endurance and ferocity, even to the death. But the most enduring characteristics of dogs are the companionship and loyalty, so faithfully given to people for thousands of years. Dogs still assist man in many different fields.
Tracking Dogs – Humans have taken advantage of the keen scenting powers of dogs to search for lost or fugitive persons. English soldiers used tracking hounds in the 1600’s to follow the trail of highwaymen who fled justice in unsettled rural parts of the country. In the United States, tracking hounds were used to follow run-away slaves before the Civil War; an activity vividly described in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.
Guide Dogs – German soldiers who returned sightless from World War I were the first such handicapped persons to be provided with dogs as guides. Soon, other countries trained dogs to guide their blind. In the United States, Dorothy Harrison Eustis pioneered the use of dogs as eyes for the sightless. In 1929 she opened the “Seeing Eye” Foundation at Morristown, New Jersey. The German Shepherd is most often used for helping sightless persons. In Canada, the Lion’s Foundation of Canada developed the Canine Vision on the 9th of November 1985.
Hearing Dogs – Dogs are able to assist people with a hearing handicap. The dogs, which are usually privately trained, direct the attention of their handicapped owner to the ringing of doorbells, telephones or alarms or to other happenings of aural consequence by a series of loud barks, signs or other activity.
Dogs have been used in war for centuries. They have displayed their courage, reliability and loyalty on countless occasions.
Early day combat dogs often wore spiked collars and suits of nail were turned loose against onrushing cavalry. The knife-like spikes were designed to play havoc with the horses’ legs and bring about an abrupt enemy retreat. These tactics were often successful. Roman legions took dogs on their expeditions into various parts of the world. Napoleon used dogs in the Franco-Prussian War and recommended the use of dogs as guards at Alexandria, Egypt. The colonial troop of the American Revolution used dogs. Dogs were used extensively during the Boer War of 1899-1902 and the Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905. They were used in searching battlefields for wounded and missing soldiers, as key aids to stretcher-bearers and medical corpsmen. They were instrumental in saving thousands of lives.
World War I, 1914-1918 – The Germans, at the beginning of the conflict, had some 6,000 dogs trained to serve as messengers, guards, sentries and search dogs. The two main allied powers, Britain and France, had neither trained war dogs nor did they have a war dog training school. As the war proceeded, however, the British War Dog School, directed by Colonel and Mrs. Edwin H. Richardson was founded.
World War II, 1939-1945 – All the major powers in WWII used trained dogs at the battlefronts. The dogs performed as messengers, pack dogs, first aid assistants, locating wounded, spotting machine gun nests, guard dogs and sentry dogs.
The Germans founded the military kennels at Frankfurt in 1934 and by 1939 had ready for war use about 50,000 trained dogs; most of them were graduates of the Frankfurt School.
Poland established a war dog training school in 1933, but had nowhere near the number of trained dogs of the Germans. It was not until March 1942 that the United States, within the framework of a civilian organization called “Dogs for Defense” began procuring dogs for military use. A canine corps-training program was under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Quartermaster General. In 1950, the United States reactivated its military dog-training program and it has been kept active since.
Vietnam – The United States trained thousands of military dogs in Lackland, Texas. These dogs participated in the Vietnam conflict as guard dogs, patrol dogs, sentry dogs, search dogs and tracking dogs. The dogs have been credited with saving the lives of many military personnel. As a point of interest, during the Vietnam War, it was with great difficulty that dogs were procured for police purposes. Trained dogs are used today in the troubled Middle East by United Nations peacekeeping forces to help prevent insurgency, infiltration and sabotage.
Police across the world have not overlooked the dogs as an important partner in the war on crime and disorder. Prior to 1899 dogs were used by law enforcement personnel, however, there was not a formal training program and most often the dogs were companions at night for patrolling policemen. French experiments began in 1895 and the Germans conducted experiments in 1896, however, Ghent, Belgium is the first city in the world known to have established a school where dogs were trained for law enforcement work. In March 1899, the city Ghent, Belgium purchased three dogs and soon after, seven more. These dogs were trained for police work.
Police Dogs in the United States – The New York City program was developed in 1907. Since 1907 more than 1,000 American forces have had units at some time or presently do. There have been two distinct eras in the United Sates in the police canine programs. The earlier era ran from 1907 to 1952 and included 13 programs and 12 forces. The modern era began in 1954 and continues today. There were no canine programs in the United States from 1952 to 1954.
Canadian police forces have used dogs for public safety since the mid 1890’s. However, the first programs featured sled dogs whose mission was transport, not tracking or patrol work. Blood hounds bounded into the picture in the 1900’s.
Sled Dogs
Sled dogs are not police dogs in the sense of performing criminal work, but they have proven important to several police forces in Canada for many years. The last RCMP dogsled patrol was on March 11, 1969 from the isolated Yukon Territory settlement of Old Crow to Fort McPherson, 200 miles away in the Northwest Territories.
Tracking Dogs
One of the earliest recorded Canadian incidents where a tracking specialist was used was in the Crow’s Nest Pass area in southern Alberta. In April 1908, Sergeant Major Charles C. Raven of Lethbridge and his bloodhound sought the person who had murdered an RNWMP constable in the small town of Frank, 155 miles west of Lethbridge. The team failed to find the killer but did, it is believed, picked up the suspect’s trail in spite of a snowfall and the passing of two days from the incident. 
In 1919, the Alberta Provincial Police purchased two bloodhound pups but they “…took distemper and died”. Undaunted, in 1920 “Chief Inspector Nicholson purchased two dogs…and they…are in the course of training”. The departments 1921 Annual Report noted that the bloodhound pups: “…are doing well and advancing in their training, they will be ready to be placed in each district by May 1st , 1922 and should be of great assistance in tracking criminals, and I look for good results from them…”.
In 1922, there were seven bloodhounds distributed to Lethbridge, Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Peace River and Grand Prairie. Their work was given rave notices: “(They) have more than proved their usefulness in tracking people. They were used considerably in the southern part of the province, tracking down escaped prisoners, lost people and were successful in most of the cases they worked on”.
In Canada, the RCMP first attempted to enter a dogs tracking evidence in court, in 1933 after a trained Police Dog, Dale of Cawsalta succeeded in tracking a car thief from an abandoned auto to a deserted shack 5 miles away. Although this evidence was not accepted at that time, it would be routine today.
It was not until 1962 however, that Canadian Court ruled in favour of admitting tracking evidence. The dog’s evidence cannot stand-alone but must be used as corroborative evidence.