Three eight-week-old German shepherd puppies are the latest additions to the Isle of Man’s police force.
If they make the grade, Polo, Ruby and Poppy will follow in their parents’ paw prints when they start work in the dog unit – both dad Bodie and mum Saxon are working police dogs.
The puppies have gained quite a following on Twitter – the IoM Police Dogs page has almost 2,000 followers.
They are currently being looked after by sergeant Ian Kelly and constable Michael Dougherty in their homes.
The puppies have started environment training – aimed at getting them used to a range of different noises.
Mr Dougherty’s decking area at the rear of his house resembles a mini assault course, with empty plastic bottles filled with marbles hanging down and plenty of toys to chew on.
Once they have had their second set of vaccinations the puppies will be taken outside to get them used to everything from traffic to different floor surfaces.
Eventually they will be trained in searching for persons in buildings and open areas, searching for property, tracking, criminal work exercises, obedience and public order scenarios.
Mr Kelly said training was all about rewarding positive behaviour: ‘If you reward them with a play or a treat then they will do it again.’
Polo’s handler will be constable Tony McNally, whose dog is due to retire next year.
Mr Dougherty said Polo was showing the characteristics needed to be a police dog: ‘He’s not scared of anything, and he’s inquisitive.’
Polo, Ruby and Poppy were three of a litter of nine, all of which are doing well.
The Cumbrian police force will be taking on two of the puppies for its dog unit.
And one puppy will be donated to Sniffer Dogs UK and International (SDUKI), a UK charity which helps internationally with funding and dog acquisition. Two have already been rehomed.
It’s Saxon and Bodie’s second, and last, litter of puppies.
Mr Kelly said: ‘The first litter was so good we just repeated mating them.’
One of the dogs from their first litter, Bou, could be working soon – if she passes a series of tests this week. She turns two in November.
One of Bou’s brothers didn’t make the grade and is being rehomed. Mr Kelly said there were no guarantees dogs would make the grade.
He insisted that those who didn’t weren’t bad dogs – they just weren’t cut out for police work.
Mr Kelly said that German shepherds make ideal dogs in the fight for paw and order.
Their temperament means they are happy to work and get on with people, and their size gives them a good presence.
There are five police dog handlers in the unit. They each have a general purpose dog and a drugs detection dog. And a couple of the handlers have an explosives detection dog too.
Follow the puppies progress on Twitter: @IOMPoliceDogs