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Meet SENIOR CONSTABLE SUE BURRIDGE, a dog handler with the NZ Police, and currently the only operational female police dog handler in the country.

Sue joined Police in 1999 and was accepted for training as a police dog handler for Wellington Police in 2005.

She's one of the most experienced members of the section and is often asked by children about the work of police dogs.

In fact, she gets asked so often that she decided to write a book about it! The book she has written is called The Adventures of Police Dog Zeus, published by Blue Light New Zealand with support from Jimbo's.

 

A keen reader herself, Sue says she hopes the book will encourage young readers to follow their dreams. “Nothing is impossible!”


How did you become a police dog handler and why do you like it?

I grew up on a farm near Wairoa in northern Hawke's Bay. Animals have been a big part of my life and I love working outside. My goal was to be a police dog handler. It takes a lot of hard work and you need to be fit.

I love it because you are mostly working outside and doing all sorts of interesting stuff like tracking bad guys, finding lost people or stolen property, and often being the first on the scene at emergencies helping to keep people safe. Most of all I get to go to work with my best mate – that's Hades my current police dog.

 

First off I had to apply to join NZ Police. After passing some written and physical tests to get accepted I went to The Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua and trained as a police recruit. After graduating I worked on general police duties in Wairoa, Featherston and Wellington.

But I still wanted to be a police dog handler. So I fostered puppies born at our Trentham Police Dog Training Centre. The foster programme is really fun as once a puppy is old enough to leave mum, usually around nine weeks old, foster parents who could be police officers or interested families, take a puppy home to look after and live with them for a few months.

This is really special as you get the puppy used to being around lots of people, going for walks and learning a few simple commands. Over the next few months instructors assess the puppy to see if he or she is good enough to train as an operational police dog, or to become a breeding mum for other police dogs.

It also gave me time to get more experience as a police officer before I applied and was accepted to become a trainee dog handler.

It's not easy and requires hours of training and practice for the handlers and dogs to learn how to work together and function as a fully operational team.

Demon was my first operational dog and he was pretty special. Hades is my second operational dog and he's cool too. A different personality to Demon and a bit lighter which helps when you're both trying to get over a high fence when we are tracking and chasing offenders!
 

Why did you decide to write about your police dog?

I think it was an awesome way to remember Demon, although the book is mainly from my imagination.
 

What is The Adventures of Police Dog Zeus about?

It's about a puppy who dreams of being a Police dog. He has one big obstacle though and that is his fear of the dark. If he can overcome that he can achieve his dream. It's a story written from Zeus's perspective – not Maddy his handler, not my colleagues or me.
 

Is Zeus a real dog?

Zeus is a fictional dog. Parts of his character are very similar to Demon, but it's a junior fiction read. There are a few bits of mischief and events that may be true. (Can you tell which are true and which are false?)
 

Tell us about your current police dog.

Hades has lots of personality and is fun to work with. He loves going to work and catching bad guys. As soon as he jumps in the back of my police wagon he's keen. When I get to a scene, open the back and put his tracking harness on there's no stopping him.


Did you train your police dog and does he live with you?

Someone else trained Hades and I was given him when he was three years old. We have come a long way since then, even competing last year in the Police Dog National Championships where the 12 best police patrol dogs in the country compete to be crowned ‘top dog'. Hades lives with me and has his special kennel.
 

What's his job?

Hades' main job is to catch bad guys. I drive him to the jobs and he finds them for me. It's about teamwork. He looks after me when we are at work because he has got awesome hearing and a better sense of smell than I have. Hades is also a member of Search and Rescue with me. If somebody gets lost, Hades helps find them.

 

What's the bravest/smartest thing your police dog has ever done?

Hades is brave because he looks after me and protects me when we are chasing some nasty and dangerous people. It also means he helps protect other police officers and members of the public when they need us most. The smartest thing he does is knowing where the bad guys are hiding and finding them for me.
 

Will there be an Adventures of Zeus Part Two?

Absolutely. I'm writing a second book at the moment. It's about Zeus's son Ace and his adventures.


 

 
Police dog handlers are planning to give a free copy of The Adventures of Police Dog Zeus to every primary school library.

You can also buy a copy through Blue Light for $15 including post and packaging.

Just visit: www.bluelight.co.nz


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