Dog park named after RCMP dog
Dodger Dog Park will be new dog-friendly area near Servus Place
Wednesday, Sep 03, 2014 06:00 am
On Friday morning, St. Albert threw Dodger the dog a bone.
The retired RCMP service dog who worked with St. Albert’s local detachment was presented with a ceremonial “bone” cookie – and they named the new dog-friendly park near Servus Place after the retired pooch, too.
And while Dodger might have seemed more excited about his treat than he was the sign bearing his name and photos and information about his history with the St. Albert RCMP, the canine’s former handler, St. Albert’s mayor and Dodger’s new family were on hand to say a few words about the honour.
“He was a real inspiration to me every day at work,” said Const. Greg Hawkins, who was Dodger’s handler. “After those first few weeks we really gelled and he just continued to develop and become I think probably one of the best searchers we ever had.”
Hawkins thanked council and the city for creating an off-leash space where dogs can take their humans to share bonding experiences like the walks he and Dodger used to enjoy.
Off-leash walks were Dodger’s favourite hobby, even more than searching, Hawkins said. He recollected how he’d take Dodger for off-leash walks so he could run around and “just be a dog.”
Dodger is now enjoying his retirement at the home of Sgt. Dave Sylvestri, who is a trainer at the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre in Innisfail.
Initially Dodger began his retirement at the centre, Sylvestri said.
“I kind of felt sorry for him, you know, and he was sitting back there and I’d take him out for walks and one thing led to another and Dodger came home with me,” Sylvestri said.
At the Sylvestri’s home he has canine company in the form of the sergeant’s retired working dog, and living a well-deserved retirement lifestyle.
“Like Greg said he enjoys his walks, he waits patiently for us to come home and enjoys watching TV. Can’t watch the Animal Planet, just loses it,” Sylvestri said.
Mayor Nolan Crouse called Dodger a symbol for policing in the community, and a bridge between residents and the officers, especially for youth.
The naming ceremony took place just days before the new animal bylaw is set to go into effect, which will place more limits on off-leash pups and where they can roam.
The park is not yet open to the public. Construction is set to take place through September and October.
Council made the decision back in January to name the park after Dodger, Crouse said.
Shortly after the sign was unveiled, Crouse observed sometimes park names are changed after a time because the present-day does not know why a park was named after someone. He predicted that wouldn’t be the case with Dodger Dog Park.
“We believe this will just be named forever,” Crouse said.