Ned’s Wish is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for retired police and military dogs by providing financial support for their medical well-being. Who was Ned?
Who was Ned?
Like most RCMP police dogs, Ned was born at the Police Service Dog Training Centre (PDSTC) in Innisfail, Alberta, on May 21, 2003. He was assigned to Cst. Garfield Henderson of the RCMP Valleyview Detachment in Alberta in June 2005 to be raised in the PDSTC imprinting program – supervised by Cpl. Phil Graham of the RCMP in Peace River, Alta. Prior to Ned, Cst. Henderson raised several potential police dogs. Ned transferred to Comox Valley, B.C. in July 2005 with Cpl. Graham, who continued training and imprinting Ned. Cpl. Graham retired police dog “Ringo” in January 2006 and entered formal Police Dog Training with Ned in January 2006. The course was completed in 20 working days – the average at the time was 65 working days. Cpl. Graham and Ned officially began working operationally as a team at Comox Valley in February 2006.
Regimental #687 Reporting for Duty
In his first week of work he successfully tracked a suspect from an armed robbery at a gas station in Courtenay, B.C. He located the mask, clothing and weapon used by the suspect which were hidden in bushes several blocks from the scene. Ned’s discovery of led to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.
In his second month of service Ned assisted in the apprehension of three suspects from a break and enter in progress. Ned pursued and apprehended one suspect on his own, thereby allowing Cpl. Graham to pursue and apprehend another. Then Ned tracked the third suspect and apprehended her hiding in some bushes several blocks away.
In Ned’s third month of service he and Cpl. Graham were called to a violent domestic dispute in Courtenay, B.C. where the suspect had attacked and injured the first two responding RCMP members. The suspect fled over the steep banks of the Puntledge River, but Ned and Cpl. Graham were in hot pursuit. Ned tracked the suspect down the banks and through heavy brush to an area on the banks of the fast-moving river. The suspect then dove into the rapids to avoid apprehension. Without hesitation Ned and Cpl. Graham dove into the rapids and pursued the suspect through the rapids to the opposite bank, but Ned was sucked into deadfall in the rapids and nearly drowned before being pulled free by Cpl. Graham. The suspect continued to flee and re-entered the water and swam back to the Courtenay side of the river. Undeterred, Cpl. Graham and Ned continued the pursuit and also re-entered the river. Once he reached the banks, Ned tracked the suspect who continued to flee, but was apprehend by perimeter containment just ahead of Ned.
Sometime later, Ned survived a severe car crash while on route to an Emergency Response Team call in Nanaimo, B.C. A male suspect was threatening to blow up a building at the ferry docks, and while en route to the call, Cpl. Graham’s police suburban was struck at high speed by a vehicle that ran a red light. The suburban sustained severe damage. Nevertheless, Ned was still able to attend the call and assisted with the apprehension of the suspect.
Ned was cross trained in explosive detection and became the first operational Police Service Dog to work in that profile on Vancouver Island. In December 2006, Cpl. Graham was promoted to the PDSTC. To keep Ned operational, he was teamed-up with Cpl. Ken Barker (no pun intended!) of the RCMP in Portage, Man. In his first few months with Cpl. Barker, Ned tracked and apprehended six suspects from a break and enter. During this same period, Ned tracked a violent suspect for over 20 km as the suspect swam over several rivers to avoid capture. To evade apprehension, the suspect stole a van and tried to run-down Cpl. Barker and Ned. Eventually, after tracking him for more than six hours, Ned and Cpl. Barker apprehended the suspect.
Ned was Dogged (pun intended)
He suffered numerous injuries related to his service including a severe knee injury that required a steel plate and pin to be inserted in his rear leg. Ned never gave up. To get his man, he travelled by air, land, and sea. Once, while travelling to a call over very rough seas, Ned broke a tooth on a Coast Guard vessel. Ned retired from the RCMP in December of 2010. Like many retirees, Ned wasn’t too successful with his first attempt at a life of leisure, and on a reduced schedule he re-entered working life as a detection dog. Finally, after a stint of part-time work, Ned retired from active service in August of 2011.
Finding a Forever Home
Like most retirees, Ned was not successful at his first attempt. His first retirement was short-lived as he soon took up work as an explosive detection dog on oil pipelines in Alberta. Almost a year later, ready to give retirement another try, Ned found his forever home with Inspector Stacey Talbot of the RCMP, who had prior experience caring for canine-retiree “Data.” Given her prior experience with Data, Stacey was well suited to appreciate and understand Ned’s unique needs.
Knowing it takes a village to raise a retired police dog, Stacey’s immediate family were a part of the decision to welcome Ned into the fold. Being called-out in the middle of the night and away from home unexpectedly, sometimes for days at a time, is not conducive to good dog care. Luckily all were charmed by Ned, and the decision to make him a member of the WHOLE family was easy.
On Ned’s first introduction to his new house he checked out every nook and cranny. Apparently for Ned old habits were hard to shake, as he must have been in detection mode. Regardless, he ‘cleared’ the rest of the house, and even the dog doors were no match for Ned. He figured those out in a flash.
Unfortunately, his first few months with Stacey were eventful for all the wrong reasons. On his second day in his new home Stacey noticed an issue with his leg, which resulted in a trip to the vet, which lead to many subsequent appointments, and eventually a surgery to remove the plate and pins he had inserted into his leg to treat his old ACL surgery. Shortly thereafter, Ned developed a urinary tract infection which escalated into Ned going febrile and developing a fever. An emergency vet visit ended in a $7,000 surgery for an unprecedented prostatic abscess.
It would be wonderful to be able to say the rest of Ned’s life was medically uneventful. Some retired police dogs belong to this club. But, this was not the case with Ned. Due to skin and stomach issues, Ned was initially diagnosed with allergies which required lengthy and expensive exams, specialist appointments, trial diets and drugs, all of which provided him with little relief. And Stacey’s pocket book had no relief, as his continual vet visits and treatment exceeded $10,000.
After two years of exhaustive attempts to cure Ned’s ills, it became apparent Ned did not suffer from allergies; his symptoms were diagnosed as the result of stress and separation anxiety. When he was working, Ned was always kept busy and spent a great deal of his time with his handler. Retirement life for Ned was quiet. Too quiet. The remedy: Stacey decided to adopt Ned a buddy, and Toothless-Toby, a senior, partially-blind rescue dog became Ned’s new companion, and voila! Many of Ned’s symptoms subsided. Who would have thought an $80 rescue dog could have saved Ned almost two years of undue stress, and saved thousands of dollars in vet bills?
Shortly after these incidents Stacey learned about vet insurance, and her financial burdens eased somewhat. Because of Ned’s existing and developing medical issues, trips to the vet were still an occasional requirement, but the costs were easier to handle.
Ned’s original handler, Phil Graham, nicknamed him “Ned the Knucklehead,” which was apt. Ned was a happy-go-lucky dog, but he always managed to get himself into interesting predicaments. Once Ned tried to get on the back-end of a treadmill while Stacey was running on it. He was spit off backwards at high speed. Another time he ran through a neighbor’s freshly poured cement driveway . . . up to his knees!
He loved other dogs and especially enjoyed playing with a puppy at the dog park. However, he paid so much attention to the puppy he once ran into a tree and hurt his shoulder. Thankfully not all of his outings resulted in injury. But Stacey quickly learned she had to watch him like a hawk. If there was a mud-hole nearby, Ned was in it!
Anything Ned put his mind to, he did with all his energy and might. Even with all of his injuries, maladies, aches and pains, Ned was always game for a walk, a trip to the dog park, or making sure he was the centre of attention. And as good natured as Ned was, you’d be ill advised to get between him and his Kong toy!
On May 13, 2016, shortly before his 13th birthday, Stacey lost Ned to a medical emergency. Thirteen years is a long life for a large German Shepherd, especially one who was such a hard-working dog. His last few days in hospital amounted to over $25,000, the majority of which was thankfully and gratefully covered by the insurance company.
Ned was a true hero, and he enjoyed five years of retirement before his family had to say good-bye. He will never be forgotten and his memory will live on at the RCMP kennels where his headstone rests.
In dedication to Ned, his devoted family and friends started the Ned’s Wish Society to enhance the lives of retired police dogs.