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South Wairarapa Rebus Club

March 15, 2019 March 2019 No Comments

The South Wairarapa Rebus Club next meets on Friday 22 March to hear Denise and Dougal MacKenzie of Te Rakau Birding describe their environmental restoration project at Ocean Beach. The following Friday, 29 March, we have chartered a bus to take us to see the project, followed by lunch at the Lake Ferry pub.

At our February meeting Jim Field entertained a fascinated audience with stories from his extensive experience as a police dog handler. His start with dogs was laying trails for police dogs during training sessions, having met up with three handlers over a beer. Once he had passed his permanent appointment exam, taken after the end of an extensive probationary period, he “applied for a pup” and was accepted for training. Handlers got their dogs at three months of age and spent nine months socialising them. At one year of age they were taken to the police dog training centre in Trentham for a 13 week training period. After graduating as a team, Jim and his first dog, Voss, were posted initially to Palmerston North. He was later the first police dog handler to be based in Masterton. He had three dogs during his 13 years as a handler. With his third dog, Rhys, he still holds the record for the number of arrests in a year, 97, more than twice as many as the next highest total. Today Rhys stands mounted in the Police Museum, complete with tracking harness and in tracking pose. 

The demands of a job where Jim and Rhys were effectively on call 24/7 eventually caught up with him. Called in the middle of the night to look for a prowler in the Colombo Street, he couldn’t remember where Colombo Street was, even though it was the street that his parents lived in. He was put on indefinite sick leave and four months later, resigned.

It was disturbing to learn that there are no longer police dogs and handlers based in Masterton, the nearest being in Upper Hutt. When needed for tracking, the sooner a dog is on the job the better are the chances of a successful capture, so a delay of an hour or more, particularly in adverse weather, is unfortunate. However, under good conditions a dog can track some hours later, so all is not necessarily lost.

The South Wairarapa Rebus Club meets in the South Wairarapa Working Men’s Club on the fourth Friday of each month. Anyone in the retired age group who may be interested in our Rebus Club is welcome to come along to a meeting as a visitor.  Please contact David Woodhams 306 8319.

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