Lillybelle.

toglhot

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In the earlier days of the police dog handler mustering our dogs were sourced from the general public. HQ would prepare a media release saying we were after dogs, anyone with a dog they didn’t want was encouraged to ring their local base and ask for someone to come out and inspect their dog. Obviously, we had certain criteria such age, breed, etc, and as long as they passed our test, we would accept them. When I was running the police dog section at Glenbrook around 83, I got a phone call one day from a lady who said she had a GS she was interested in donating. I organised a time and then drove out to have a look at the dog. The dog’s name was Lillybelle, a good name for a big tough police dog I thought. Unfortunately, Lillbelle was very small, well under 30kgs. The house was unkempt and dirty, Lillybelle live in the backyard amongst the foot high grass and weeds and there were dog faeces everywhere. So, I determined to get Lillybelle out of there, so I ran her through the tests, which she failed dismally, got the woman to sign the appropriate paperwork, loaded Lillybelle up and returned to the base. The idea being to find her a ‘decent home.

I didn’t have a dog at the time, Dante having died the previous year. Every day I went to work, I got Lillybelle out of her kennel and had her spend the day in my office, under my desk. She was a lovely little thing and in no time, we had formed a bond. I continued looking for a home for her without any luck, so I started doing a little ‘informal’ training with her, convinced she wouldn’t stand up to our rigorous training methods. By encouraging her to jump up on my desk, over my chair, on my lap, through the window, then moving her training onto our obstacle course, I had her negotiating all the obstacles in very short order. Impressed, I moved her on to basic obedience: Heel, sit down, stay, etc, which she also picked up very quickly. So, I determined to move her on to aggression training, even though she had failed the initial test procedure. We managed to get her to growl and bark, but couldn’t get her to bite anything. So, I resumed looking for a home for her. One day, Bob, one of my troops walked into my office, Lillybelle was surprised, jumped up and lunged at Bob. Fortunately, I was quick enough to reach out and grab her before she caused any damage. Encouraged, I started aggression training with her again and her aggression improved to the point where she would latch onto a hessian bag and shortly after a padded arm. Next up was intruder detection and tracking. Lillybellelle also had no problem with these exercises. Lillybelle wanted nothing more than to please, an admirable trait in any dog. I realised she was a bit on the small side, but speed came with that so I thought someone would be interested in her, so shipped her off to the police dog training school.

I’d been ducking and weaving reteaming with another dog, but eventually HQs caught up with me and attached me to the school for a reteaming course. When I arrived a few months later, Lillybelle was still in the kennels waiting for someone to take her. On start of course the instructors identified a number of dogs for the course, including Lillybelle and put them through aggression tests and intruder detection test for us students to see. Once we saw the dogs in action, we were to write a short list of dogs we were interested in. Interestingly, Shinta, was listed. Anyway, I explained Lilybelle’s situation to the head instructor, I convinced him to let me handle Lillybelle for the demonstration. Lilybelle worked a charm, picked up a concealed intruder hundreds of metres away, putting the other recruit dogs to shame. She had a very fast run in followed by a good strong bite and I thought surely, she would have impressed somebody enough for them to choose her. But that wasn’t the case, Lillybelle attracted no interest. I didn’t want her as I thought her too small and much, much too easy to train, in fact she was pretty close to being fully trained. So, I made a list of a couple of other dogs and submitted that. Shinta suffered the same fate, being young, boisterous, hyperactive, a screamer and finger painter, he was on everyone’s ‘don’t want’ list.

And so, I left the training school with my new police dog, Shinta, leaving Lillybelle behind.

I don’t know what happened to her after I left, certainly she never made it to police dog as I never heard of her around the traps. I did hear through the rumour mill that the officer in charge of the school wanted a dog to ‘play’ with, and so they gave him Lillybelle. In retrospect, I definitely did the wrong thing here, I should have found a home for her. Hopefully the school did the right thing and rehomed her with a family somewhere, but I never found out any more. Sadly, that wasn’t the case in most cases, so Lillybelle was probably put down
 
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Brother, why do you do this to me? I kept hoping for the happy ending to show up. I know, reality is not always that way, but dang, I didn't expect my milk to sour while reading the last paragraph.

I'll go ahead and take your true story and write a movie script 'Based on a true story' but in the end Lillybelle will save both you and the old lady from bad guys. Oh look, my milk is better now. :)
 
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