Saskatchewan

Regina officer has special bond with police dog

An officer with the Regina police force says his special bond with his police dog partner, a Belgian Malinois, has changed the direction of his career and his life.
Kruz, a Belgian Malinois, was being trained as a police dog virtually from the day he could walk. (CBC)

An officer with the Regina police force says his special bond with his police dog partner, a Belgian Malinois, has changed the direction of his career and his life.

Cpl. Jody Lorence is part of the the canine unit — K-9 unit, in police parlance — with his four-legged friend Kruz. Several years ago Lorence and his wife brought Kruz's mother, Shadow, home from Winnipeg.

Originally, the plan was to have Shadow become a police dog, but after developing a hip problem she couldn't enter the service. She was bred with another Malinois already working as a police dog in Regina, which resulted in eight puppies.

Three of those dogs now work for the Regina police. Once a dog is selected for training, it goes to live with its handler, but Kruz got to stay with Shadow and his future partner.

"He was the first to do everything," said Lorence.

"He was the first one to climb out of the whelping box and stray from mom. When we would take him to stairs, [he'd be the] first to climb up and go down. [When we] dropped something, he'd be the first to investigate what that noise was."

'K-9 is often the tip of the spear — we're the first ones there, we're the first ones through the door on a lot of stuff.'—Cpl. Jody Lorence

Lorence said the difference between Kruz and other canine unit dogs is that he started training from day one.

He was tracking Lorence around the house, finding him hiding in various locations. It didn't take long for Kruz to qualify for the police force and soon the sleek, brown, 80-pound powerhouse became Lorence's partner.

Police dogs are often used to track down people who flee crime scenes, zeroing in on anything suspects may have tossed or dropped along the way. They also search buildings or houses to make a crime scene safe for other officers to enter.

"I can't say enough about how much officer safety we have to be cognizant of out here," said Lorence. "K-9 is often the tip of the spear — we're the first ones there, we're the first ones through the door on a lot of stuff."

With Kruz on a six-metre leash, Lorence must be able to read all of the canine's cues and Kruz has to do what he's told.

Lorence admits, though Kruz is his partner and they have a close connection, he's not a pet and there still remains a very distinct difference between them.

"One of the hardest things to make people who are not in the dog world understand ... he's like another appendage for me," said Lorence. "In the end though, he is a dog."

Lorence said Kruz's safety will be compromised for the safety of other officers, victims and even suspects.

"That's my worst nightmare on the job, I don't want him to get hurt," said Lorence. "We go out of our way not to put him into any of those kinds of circumstances, but in the end, if it's the difference between a human and a dog, that's just the situation."

Lorence admits the bond the two have was inevitable — Kruz was born in his home and goes to work with him every day.

Despite the fact that they do have many more nights of fighting crime together, Lorence knows eventually Kruz will have to be put down.

"Kruz's was born in my home, December the 13th almost six years ago," he said. "He took his [first] breath in my hands and he'll take his last breath at my side."

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