Rescue dog with Behchoko RCMP breaks down barriers
'People can relate to her and just connect with her. It kind of just soothes everything down'
A former stray dog has found its way into the Behchoko RCMP detachment, and into the hearts of people in the community.
But it wasn't always that way for Paddy Cakes.
Two years ago, she was living under the RCMP detachment in the community of Whati. Cst. Seth Thomas, who was was working as a relief officer at the time, noticed her hiding out under buildings and away from people.
"I would come to the detachment and she would just magically appear all the time," he says.
He started giving her food and letting her come inside the detachment. But eventually he had to leave Whati.
"I thought, well, if I came back and she was still alive, I'll adopt her," says Thomas.
Sure enough, as soon as Paddy Cakes saw Thomas's truck pull up to the detachment two weeks later, she came out of hiding and ran up to him, placing her paws on his chest.
"And basically she's been with me ever since," he says.
Soon after, Thomas heard some children singing the paddy cakes song while in Lutsel K'e. He explains that many kids in the communities are often scared of stray dogs, so he wanted to give her a name that was safe.
He says Paddy Cakes is an ice breaker with the young people in any community he visits.
"It makes it easy for the kids to come up, and for us to talk to the kids. Generally sometimes kids are afraid of us," he says. "Adults too."
Dog bonds with children, prisoners
Thomas says Paddy Cakes has also bonded with people who've had to spend a night in the cells.
"People will get up in the morning and they'll see Patty Cakes. It's calming for them, they pat her, and they see her out on the street it's the same thing too. There's a rapport there now."
And she has no shortage of friends.
Corporal Kirk Hughes has been at the Behchoko detachment for three months. He had to put sign on the side of the building to let young visitors know when Paddy Cakes was in or out. That was because each time someone came to the door, they'd ring the doorbell.
"Prisoners were trying to sleep, members were trying to do work ... and so it dawned on us very shortly after Paddy Cakes increased popularity that it was time for a sign," says Hughes.
He says children see when Paddy Cakes is in, and they can visit and take her for a walk. When it says she's out, they'll mill around the station and wait for her to return.
"And sometimes we have to have a list set up for who's going to walk Paddy Cakes when," says Hughes.
'It boils down to the fact that she's always compassionate'
Giselle Mantla is in Grade 3 at Elizabeth Mackenzie Elementary school. When asked what she likes about Paddy Cakes, she says, "She helps the cops to find people. Also helping other people." She and her classmates are at the RCMP detachment most days when school's out.
"It boils down to the fact that she's always compassionate," says Hughes.
"It's amazing how adults, RCMP officers, youth especially, they come to this detachment not in a happy mood, or something's transpired that's traumatic, or sad," he says. "Now we have a dog that breaks down those barriers and people can relate to her and just connect with her. It kind of just soothes everything down."
He says most RCMP officers across the North wind up adopting or helping to find homes for stray dogs.
At the end of the day, Paddy Cakes is at Cst. Thomas's side as they head home.
"At first I know I was the one who started feeding her and stuff but eventually she was the one that stuck with me, and she's always been by my side all the time," he says. "So really, she adopted me."