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Vancouver's poet laureate pens book about dog-and-handler bonds in K9 unit

Vancouver's poet laureate Rachel Rose has a whole new respect for law enforcement now after spending many nights on the case with officers and their canine partners.

The Dog Lovers Unit explores lives of cops and their dogs

Rose goes around the world to learn about the connection between canine and police officer 6:28

Vancouver's poet laureate Rachel Rose has a new respect for law enforcement after spending many nights riding with police officers and their canine partners.

Rose grew interested in K9 dogs after hearing stories about canine units from her wife, who is an RCMP physician. She became increasingly curious about the animals.

Rachel Rose rode along with K9 units in different countries. She's picture here with Sheriff Gene Davis and dog Gunner in Washington state. (Benjamin Fieschi-Rose)

"That curiosity became an obsession and led me to four countries and to riding along with the dogs, it was really hard to stop," Rose said. "The more I learned the more I wanted to learn."

Over the course of her research, she learned that police officers and their dogs form incredibly close bonds. For many officers in canine units, Rose said "it's the closest relationship they can have.

"They depend on their dogs to protect lives, to save their lives, and they spend 24/7 with their dogs when they are out on the road — it's like nothing else."

Rose worked with units in Canada, the U.S., France and Britain and wrote a non-fiction book, The Dog Lover Unit: Lessons in Courage from the World's K9 Cops.

Dan Negri, Deputy Sheriff at County of Sonoma, demonstrating a stakeout with his dog Scout. (Rachel Rose)

A relationship like nothing else

One of the police-dog duos Rose introduces in her book is RCMP Constable Jamie Dopson and Chrisa, one of the few female dogs in the RCMP Canine Unit.

Dopson said there is some stigma with female police dogs concerning their ability and temperaments. In the book, Chrisa is described as the "dog that no one wanted." 

Other officers weren't interested in working with Chrisa, Dopson said.

"I was new, I'd take whatever they'd give me. I took her on and it grew from there."

K9 dog Chrisa is one month from retirement after a successful partnership with RCMP Const. Jamie Dopson. (CBC)

Dopson said he and Chrisa forged a bond in the field, so strong that Chrisa sticks closely to him, and even shuns other people he shows attention to, such as his wife.   

"We were doing a field walk and I was holding my wife's hand," he said. "[Chrisa] came through and split our hands apart once, then did it a second time and a third time."

Rachel Rose met with majority female staffed K9 unit in London, unusual in the world of police work. One of the officers, Const. Emma Truelove, is pictured here holding some of the newest puppy recruits. (Rachel Rose)

Another world

Rose, a mother of three, found time to ride along with the police officer and their dogs at night while writing her book. The moments stuck with her.

Deputy Greg Piccinini and dog Yakk of Santa Rosa, Calif. connect after a day of work. Rachel Rose was intrigued by this kind of bond between handler and dog and explores these relationship in her book. (Rachel Rose)

"It was amazing to see," she said. "Just to have that experience to enter another world."

Watch Rachel Rose and Constable Jamie Dopson in conversation with Gloria Macarenko on Our Vancouver in the video clip above. 

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