It isn’t just his little red moustache and beard that make Strider a unique pooch–he’s also highly skilled at detecting explosives.
In fact, this chocolate-coloured canine is the first of his breed to be working for a Canadian police agency–the Metro Vancouver Transit Police.
Strider is a Deutsch Drahthaar, which is a medium-sized German hunting dog breed. And as Sgt. Gord McGuinness tells Vancouver Is Awesome in a phone interview, his hunting drive is part of what makes him an exceptional explosive detection dog.
With 220 million scent receptors in their nose, dogs have a keen sense of smell that allows them to quickly determine the presence or absence of odours given off by explosive materials.
“When we select a dog for this type of work we want a dog that has what is referred to as ‘hunt drive,” he says. “We want them to be able to go out and continually search on their own without being stimulated by any sort of way. We just want them hunting all the time.
“Your typical pet dogs just don’t do that.”
Brave Metro Vancouver Transit Police Dogs
Since the transit system is a decidedly volatile environment, McGuinness adds that explosive detection dogs need to be brave. Trepidation will impede their focus, and there are countless distractions on public transit.
If the dogs do get afraid “their ability to search has diminished and they’re more concentrated on their safety than that of actually looking for an odour,” he notes.
All six of the other Metro Vancouver Transit Police explosive detection dogs are labs. However, McGuinness says Strider is an “exceptional explosive detection dog”—regardless of being the odd dog out.
That said, he also has some “idiosyncrasies.”
“He does things a little differently. He’s a very independent dog,” explains McGuinness. “He doesn’t like input from his handler. He’s a little stubborn–he just goes out and does it himself.”
While his stubborn attitude can be a tad frustrating, McGuinness underscores that his “hunt drive” is an integral part of what makes him successful in his role.
Movember moment for Strider and his handler
In November 2020, led by Strider and his handler Cst. Daniel Campagne, members of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police grew facial hair for Movember, a charity that supports men’s health.
Movember aims to prevent premature death among men due to reasons related to suicide, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. Since the Transit Police have an operational priority of helping vulnerable people in crisis, they say that “Movember Foundation’s focus on tackling mental health challenges is something our department is proud to support.”
For obvious reasons, Strider was the ideal selection for the face of the campaign, as he rocks a striking amber ‘stache year-round.
Watch a video of Strider at work.
— Transit Police K9 Unit (@MVTPK9) December 2, 2020