A word of praise to the largely unsung work done by the Canine Services Unit in the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
Colin with Tanner during daily training
This unit assists Conservation Officers in the detection and recovery of evidence and concealed fish and wildlife. The highly trained dogs accompany their handlers every day to work and ride with them in trucks, boats, snowmachines, helicopters and ATVs.
These dogs provide high visibility patrols to deter violators from poaching and/or crime scenes. When someone is lost in the back woods they provide search and rescue support.
Once the trainer has his or her dog, it is up to them to train the dog in obedience, detection, tracking, etc. Frequent and intense refresher courses are mandatory. It is very important for the dog to have complete trust in the trainer. The dogs live with their trainers and are treated as professionals within the family. They are police officers. At present there are only six to seven such dogs working in the province of Ontario.
Colin Cotnam is a Conservation Officer in the Bancroft District and is shown here during training exercises with his Golden Retriever mix, Tanner, who has been a canine officer since 2008. When not directly servicing the south and central part of Ontario, Tanner and Colin conduct educational seminars.