He is usually the only police officer North of 60 that is routinely called “adorable.” Whether he is searching for missing children, lost hikers or sniffing out suspicious packages or drugs this K-9 is one of the most loyal and steadfast officers of the Yellowknife RCMP.
He is highly trained, loved by his handler Cpl Terence Dunphy and immensely dedicated. His name is Hoss, a four-year-old cold black German Shepard who works at the RCMP ‘G’ Division in Yellowknife. What most civilians don’t realize is that K-9 officer Hoss is truly considered a full-fledged police officer. Assaulting, injuring, or killing a K-9 officer carries the same punishment under the law as the same crimes committed against human officers.
Hoss’s partner Cpl. Dunphy is from Prince Edward Island (PEI), a province on the east coast of Canada, but he spent time in Saskatchewan.
“I’ve been a police officer for 12 years in December,” Cpl. Dunphy said. “And I did ten years in Saskatchewan before I ended up moving to Yellowknife. I’ve been a police dog handler for two and a half years.”
Cpl. Dunphy says Hoss is vital to the RCMP in the Northwest Territories (NWT) being the dog for all seasons and all reasons.
“German Shepards are not number one in anything,” Cpl. Dunphy said. “But they’re number two in everything.”
Cpl. Dunphy added that Hoss is a well-rounded dog and that he can run faster than any human who tries to get away from pursuing RCMP. Hoss was actually raised by Cpl. Dunphy who obtained the German Shepard when he was seven weeks old.
“At the RCMP we have our own breeding and imprinting program for dog training,” Cpl. Dunphy said. “We have the second biggest breeding program for working dogs in the world.”
Cpl. Dunphy says he first started training with another RCMP dog handler to become involved with the Police Dog Services and went through an intense training program to become Hoss’s partner.
“You start by helping out a local handler,” Cpl. Dunphy said. “So you’re the person that lays the tracks, hides whatever it is, that the training dog is going to be looking for, puts on the protective equipment and helps with the criminal apprehension, profiling and taking the bites from the dog.”
Cpl. Dunphey trained like this for about a year, before being accepted to go on an infringer course.
“That’s a course that the RCMP puts on and participants get training on how to raise one of our RCMP work dogs,” Cpl. Dunphy said. “So after that course, on Friday, I get sent home with a seven-week-old puppy and what I call the screaming ball of fur because that’s essentially what they are at that age.”
Hoss is one of the family
Hoss moved in immediately and began his journey of obedience taught by Cpl. Dunphy who implemented all the qualities and characteristics that the RCMP would like to see in a full profile working police dog.
“It’s different than raising a pet, obviously, there are certain things that you want your pet to do that you don’t want these service dogs to do. And then vice versa,” Cpl. Dunphy said. “So as an example, I would have to teach Hoss to get up on the table and walk on a slippery surface and an elevated surface at a young age, you don’t want your pets doing that.”
Hoss has also been trained purposely to withstand the harsh climate of the NWT.
“Hoss has been taught to be comfortable in a crate outside, no matter what the temperature,” Cpl. Dunphy said. “You have to get all those things in place when the puppy is growing up. So they don’t know any different.”
Hoss doesn’t get to sleep inside Cpl. Dunphy says but the German Shepard has developed a thick undercoat of luscious shiny black fur which protects him on days that drop to minus 50 degrees North of 60. Hoss is also part of Dunphy’s family he says and receives regular milk bone treats, Ice-creams on McHappy Day, as well as regular checkups at the local Yellowknife vet. Hoss also has a favorite toy which is a large orange chewie.
“He’s big, obviously and only four years old, or he just turned four in September,” Cpl Dunphy said. “So he still has a lot of puppy tendencies. Hoss is part of my family and he lives at my home, but he doesn’t live in the house, the only time he comes in the house is on Christmas Day.”
Cpl. Dunphy admits that if Hoss is sleeping in his bed and they are deployed Hoss would want to stay in the truck when its minus 40 degrees.
An all-star working dog
Stories of heroism and courage are abundant throughout the RCMP, these officers put their lives on the line every day to keep our City of Yellowknife safe but oftentimes they are overlooked when it comes to our canine friends.
Hoss was stationed in Yellowknife for a year last July and he has been very busy with his duties as an RCMP officer.
“Hoss has been deployed 108 times this year in the NWT,” Cpl. Dunphy said. “And 78 times last year.”
Cpl. Dunphy added that every time Hoss has been deployed in the NWT he has been successful.
“He can track fleeing criminals right to their bedroom,” Cpl. Dunphy said. “Hoss is a multi-profile trained working dog.”
When Police Service Dog’s are trained they enter into a tier system of what they’re particularly trained for, Cpl. Dunphy says. Some K-9s are single-purpose dogs meaning they are only trained to detect drugs, explosives or simply used for tracking.
Hoss is what Cpl. Dunphy describes as an all-star, playing on Team Canada because he is a multi-profile dog and was the pick of the litter. Cpl. Dunphy trained five other puppies along with Hoss before he was chosen.
“Hoss is trained to detect 11 different drugs,” Cpl. Dunphy said. “Hoss is immensely trained in agility, criminal apprehension and obedience. He has been on airplanes, you name it, I haven’t trained him to repel yet but I’m sure he could handle it. Hoss is super smart and always gets his man. ”
Cpl. Dunphy says the K-9 also comes in handy when he drops his keys unexpectedly while searching through the rugged terrain of the NWT.
“He saved a co-worker of mine a 600-kilometer drive to bring me my spare keys to the truck one time when I dropped them in the woods,” Cpl Dunphy said. “Sometimes I feel like I’m on the dumb end of the leash.”
For Cpl. Dunphy and Hoss, it was love at first bark. The RCMP and Police Dog Services along with Hoss are dedicated to keeping the NWT safe in all seasons.