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Saanich cop dog tops in Canada

Sep 12 2012

Snapping at flies, snuffling the grass and chewing unidentified pieces of dirt, while keeping a close eye on the all-important ball, the champion appeared entirely unaffected by media attention.

"He's an easy dog to be around," said Saanich police Const. Jon Zielinski, who with his German shepherd partner, Zeke, won the Canadian Police Canine Championships last week.

As the sun reflected off Zeke's black coat and he rolled around on the grass outside the Saanich police station, there were few signs that the top copdog would strike fear in the hearts of bad guys.

That is what makes the four-year-old dog from Germany so special, Zielinski said.

"He knows when to switch on, but, when he's off-line, he's your best friend. At the end of the day, you take him home and he's part of the family."

Zeke competed against about 30 police dogs at the canine trials in Regina and took first place in tracking, obedience and building searches, and fifth place in criminal apprehension.

Zeke and Zielinski, a member of the Saanich police for nine years, have worked together for two years.

Zielinski and his former partner, Bauer, placed third in the national championships in 2008 and Saanich dogs have taken the championship several times.

"When handlers really enjoy what they are doing, you get successes like this," Zielinski said.

Zeke expected few rewards after his win, Zielinski said.

"He got my continued love and appreciation and a lot of 'good boys' and a little bit of extra food that night," he said. "He's just happy doing the work."

Saanich Police Chief Mike Chadwick said he was proud of the pair's first-place finish.

"This achievement builds on the outstanding accomplishments of Saanich canine teams over the past 20 years," he said.

jlavoie@timescolonist.com

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