LANTZ: The communities of Elmsdale and Lantz are receiving a big pat on the back from those involved with training the K-9 service dogs with Halifax Regional Police (HRP).

On a windy, overcast mid-November day, I meet up with Const. Phil MacDonald and three other colleagues from the HRP K-9 Unit and New Glasgow Regional Police, and their four-legged canine partners at the Elmsdale Legion. After quick introductions, Const. Phil MacDonald invites me inside his unmarked police vehicle and tells me about what he has planned to show me the dog in action.

We head up to the Logan Drive/Oakmount subdivision. We get out and I’m told about the task that Nico, one of the four K-9’s present, will be demonstrating. If he does it correctly, he will lead handler Captain Kevin MacDonald right to the end of the track’s scent—or his toy.

“Everything you see Nico do during this exercise, he’s learned here,” said Const. Phil MacDonald, adding they’ve been coming to the area for 15 years. “The basics, the fundamentals, all the techniques have been taught out here.

“This is a fantastic training area for us. The Sportsplex has been wonderful to us too. They let us go in on rainy days and do our obedience and patrol work in the Dome.”

Nico leads his K-9 dog handler Captain Kevin MacDonald on the trail of a possible suspect during training in the Oakmount subdivision in Lantz on Nov. 20.

Normally, I wouldn’t walk through the yards of strangers, but the residents we meet as we do exactly that don’t bat an eye. They’ve seen the officers in the area enough to know they’re training and not to be alarmed.

“This community has been very open to us, very welcoming ,” he said.

As we walk up and down through the ditches and across the community playground, Const. Phil MacDonald said HRP K-9 unit train service dogs from Truro; New Glasgow; Bridgewater; and now are training Quispamsis, N.B. police service dogs.

“Often times when people drive by the sod farms on the land of Elmsdale Lanscaping they will see seven or eight unmarked police trucks sitting there,” said Const. MacDonald.

He said there is a benefit for those living in the subdivision to having such a police presence, even if they are the K-9 unit.

“On the upside, this neighbourhood is now getting daily foot patrols,” he said. “You wouldn’t even get that in the city. They get to see us and it’s a deterrent for any perspective crime, or crime of opportunity.”

The K-9 dogs that hone their skills for when they are called upon do so in the Elmsdale and Lantz area, with residents welcoming them to their streets. Const. Phil MacDonald said the HRP K-9 unit is very gracious and thankful to residents for letting them do their training away from the hustle and bustle of Halifax. (Healey photos)

Const. Phil MacDonald said getting out to the communities of Elmsdale and Lantz for training provides a different perspective—one where their presence isn’t the talk of the town like it would be if they were in Halifax, even if it’s training.

“People have been very gracious in allowing us to work in their area and go through their yards,” he said.

Now back to Nico and his tracking the scent. How did he do? He followed the track’s scent and it didn’t take him long to find it, concluding this tracking training exercise to happy enthusiasm from his handler.

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Patrick Healey
Pat has grown up in East Hants, having called Milford, and now Enfield home. He graduated from the journalism program at Holland College in 2001, and has spent time at newspapers in NL and Alberton and Summerside, PEI before becoming a reporter/photographer at The Weekly Press/The Laker in October 2008. He has a rescue kitty named Asha that is much loved—and spoiled. Pat is also our "social engagement guru." Check him out on twitter!