Furry con­sta­ble ‘steels’ show

Po­lice dog shows off tricks, bomb-sniff­ing skills

Cape Breton Post - - PROVINCIAL - BY ZANE WOOD­FORD

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.

ZANE WOOD­FORD/METRO

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.

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