Sherri Funfer’s brother knows her well.
When Ted Funfer and his wife, Julie, attended the Pooch Partners’ Raise the Woof fundraiser in Vernon in November for the Okanagan Humane Society and HugABull Rescue and Advocacy Society, they saw an auction item that was perfect for Sherri and gave it to her as a Christmas present:
Spending the day with the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP police service dog squad.
“It was a wonderful surprise,” said Funfer, a marketing administrator for the Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union. “They knew I loved German shepherds and dogs so they thought I’d have an amazing time.”
Funfer’s amazing time with Const. Marc Jones and his German shepherd, Traxx, was Tuesday in Vernon.
She watched Jones training with Traxx and other members of the Vernon-North Okanagan police service dog squad – there are three handlers and canines that cover the North Okanagan, Shuswap and all the way to Revelstoke.
Funfer watched Traxx go through some training drills, including tracking a hidden officer.
“We show all the different profiles the dog works on,” said Jones. “That includes criminal apprehension and drug searching. We have two puppies in training and we’ll show Sherri what we do to get these dogs up to a point where we can try to get them into training to become regular police dogs.”
Dogs all start their training at eight weeks of age, and most of the canines come from the RCMP’s breeding program in Alberta.
“We try to get the police dog out for any serious situation,” said Jones. “We like to try and use the dog wherever necessary.”
A recent example would be the use of a police service dog and handler to help find a suicidal woman in a rural area of Vernon.
The police dog was quickly able to establish a track leading away from the home. About 75 metres from the house, they located an area where the woman had stopped briefly. The track carried on for about another 500 metres across an open field and into a heavy bush area.
The woman was located lying near a tree. When she was found she was very weak from a self-inflicted injury.
She was transported to hospital to recover. Her life was saved by a family member who made the original call, and by the police service dog who found her.
Funfer, who looks after a 14-pound Jack Russell terrier named Ruby at her home, has been a fan of German shepherds since her family had one when she was a child.
Her day with the police service dog was a Christmas present well enjoyed.
“Getting to see what they do, spending time with the officers and the canines and just having a different experience is great,” said Funfer. “It’s a wonderful opportunity and a great fundraiser. Any dog lover would love a chance to do this.
“The German shepherds are amazing, wonderful dogs, very friendly. I think people have a lot of misconceptions about them. They’re like big puppies. They love people.”
Jones said the local detachment supports a lot of organizations like the Humane Society and SPCA and have previously provided a training day as an auction item so people can experience what the dog handlers do for training with the canines.