A Saanich police canine officer is the top dog in the country after earning overall first place at last week’s Canadian Police Canine Championships in Regina, Sask.
Const. Jon Zielinski and his four-year-old German shepherd, Zeke, participated in a gamut of trials, which show off the dog and handler’s skills when working together as a team.
“He’s special to me because of his loyalty. He’s easy going. I know that he has all the gears that I need and he knows when to switch it on, so to speak,” Zielinksi said, while Zeke gnawed on a toy beside him.
“When we were in Regina, he showed that he has all the gears and he performed really well. But at the end of the day I can take him home and he’s part of the family.”
The canine unit participated in building search, evidence search and open compound search scenarios, along with a criminal apprehension test. The dog was also tested on his obedience and agility. The Saanich pair earned the top prize out of about 30 teams.
Zielinski, who has competed previously at the canine championships (placing third overall in 2008 with police dog Bauer), says the winning formula takes time to prove successful at the competitions.
“First of all you need a bit of luck, then you need the (right) dog, and then you need the hard work,” he said.
The tests Zeke went through at the Sept. 6 to 9 championships were based on scenarios and situations he could face anytime while on duty in Saanich.
“We’re very proud to have this No. 1 team in Canada here serving our community and the citizens of our community and region,” said Sgt. Dean Jantzen.
Saanich police canine units have a history of successes at the Canadian championships, including overall first place wins in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2005 and 2006.