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?
Like most RCMP police dogs, Ned was born at the Police Service Dog Training Centre in Innisfail, Alberta, on May 21, 2003. Ned was lucky to have three outstanding handlers. As a puppy he was assigned to Cst. Garfield Henderson, to be raised in the imprinting program.
Ned then transferred to Comox Valley, B.C., in July 2004 with Cpl. Phil Graham, who continued training and imprinting Ned. In January 2005, Cpl. Graham entered formal Police Dog Training with Ned, they completed the course in 20 working days – the average at the time was 65 working days.
Month two, 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.
Regimental #687 Reporting for Duty
Cpl. Graham and Ned officially began working operationally as a team at Comox Valley in February 2005. 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 led to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.
In month three, Ned 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 a deadfall and nearly drowned before being pulled free by Cpl. Graham. Undeterred, Cpl. Graham and Ned continued the track until the suspect was successfully apprehended!
Ned was trained in explosive detection and became the first operational Police Service Dog to work in that profile on Vancouver Island. 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, Cpl. Graham and Ned never gave up, attended the call and assisted with the apprehension of the suspect. Attending calls in Comox was not always an easy feat, once while travelling to a call over very rough seas, Ned broke a tooth on a Coast Guard vessel.
In December 2005, Cpl. Graham was promoted to the RCMP Training Kennels. As for Ned he was far from retiring, some might say he was just hitting his stride!!!
Ned was then re-teamed with Cpl. Ken Barker (no pun intended!) of the RCMP in Portage, Manitoba. Ned continued with his excellent work ethic and within his first few months with Cpl. Barker, Ned tracked and apprehended six suspects from a break and enter. Ned also 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. Regrettably one of Ned and Cpl. Barker’s most notable call for duty was the infamous Greyhound Bus incident in Manitoba. To get his man, Ned literally travelled by air, land, and sea. Ned retired from the RCMP in December of 2010.
Finding a Forever Home
Ned found his forever home with Stacey Talbot of the RCMP. 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.
Unfortunately, his first few months 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. Several appointments and treatment later it was learned he had a life threatening infection requiring surgery to remove the old plate and pins, that stemmed from an old working injury from a torn cruciate. This surgery of $3,500 was gratefully covered by his initial handler, retired Sgt. Phil Graham. A few months later, Ned developed unprecedented prostatic abscess which required another emergency $7,000 dollar surgery.
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 and was spit off backwards at high speed.
Another time he ran through a neighbor’s freshly poured cement driveway . . . up to his knees! If there was a mud-hole nearby, Ned was in it!
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. 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. Ned’s continual vet visits and treatment exceeded $10,000. After almost two years of exhaustive attempts to cure Ned’s alleged allergies, his symptoms were finally diagnosed as the result of stress and separation anxiety. While working, police dogs spend almost all of their time with their Handler or with a job to do. They become very comfortable with little to no down time or time alone. Because of this, even the smallest periods apart from their owner that would be completely normal to most pets can cause severe separation anxiety in some retired police dogs.”. Unfortunately for Ned he still wasn’t quite ready for retirement. This is where Toothless-Toby, an 11 year old senior, toothless and partially-blind rescue dog arrived as Ned’s new companion, and voila, many of Ned’s symptoms subsided. Who would have thought an $80 dollar 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. During a working dog’s career, getting into everything is a good thing to get the job done. However, being retired and getting into things brings different challenges. Ned injured his paw which resulted in two surgeries and losing one of his toes ($2,500.00). As Ned got older his old working injuries came back to haunt him and back issues started to develop which required longer term pain medications.
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 a car ride. 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.