Furry constable ‘steels’ show
Police dog shows off tricks, bomb-sniffing skills
There are lots of humans with ranks in this year’s Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, but only one dog: Const. Steeler.
The five-year-old German shepherd performs a halftime show of sorts with his trainer, Halifax police Const. Phil MacDonald.
“We do a little bit of police work and we do a little bit of fun for the audience,” MacDonald said Sunday.
For their act, the K9 crimefighting duo brings down two kids from the audience, and Steeler presents them with different coloured flags based on which colour MacDonald shows him first.
So how does Steeler know which colour to pick?
“That’s a little bit of a trade secret,” MacDonald said, alluding to a bit of trickery behind the performance.
“All dogs don’t see colours, and he’s no exception. He certainly learned the trick well.”
After that portion of their performance comes the police work.
The kids hide decoy explosives in different boxes, and Steeler – whose specialty is ex- plosives – uses his skills to figure out which boxes contain the fake bombs.
MacDonald said the kids aren’t too nervous about Steeler – they get to meet him before the show – but they are nervous about the big crowd around them.
For MacDonald, that’s no sweat.
He does lots of public speaking, so he’s used to talking to people, and Steeler’s not fazed by the crowd at all.
“When he’s out, he’s certainly focused on the task at hand. He just wants to please me, get the job done, and move on.”
After that job is done, it’s back to police work for MacDonald and Steeler.
After Sunday’s matinee performance of the Tattoo, the pair was scheduled to work the 5:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. shift.
“His biggest job … is to track and apprehend criminals,” he said.
MacDonald and Steeler have been working together for five years, ever since the hundredpound dog got off a plane from Frankfurt, Germany at 10 months old.
“The bond starts then, and it continues to grow every shift that you work together,” he said.
“He comes home with me, he’s at work with me, he’s over my right shoulder every day of the week that I’m at work.”
MacDonald said Steeler only has a few years of police work left before he turns in his badge, and MacDonald takes him home – not as a co-worker, but as a pet.
Const. Phil MacDonald stands with his police dog, Const. Steeler at Grand Parade Sunday before a matinee performance of the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo.