One of Vernon’s finest just turned six.
Vernon North Okanagan RCMP K9 Hawkes is celebrating his birthday in style today (Sept 15).
“He wanted to make sure he looks sharp for his party,” a post to the local detachment’s Twitter reads.
Hawkes and his partner in fighting crime, Jagger, and their handlers Brady Kyle and Kevin Rutten, respectively. Together, they serve most of the North Okanagan from Revelstoke to Vernon.
“The next closest handlers are in Kelowna and Kamloops,” Rutten told Black Press last winter.
And they’re often kept quite busy.
Last year, the Police Dog Service responded to 58 calls in Vernon and Coldstream, plus another 42 in the greater Vernon area — a big leap from the 31 total calls responded to in 2019.
In February, this reporter caught up with the dogs and their handlers for a training exercise that had me trying (desperately) to keep up (in boots) with two German Shepherds, their handlers and Vernon North Okanagan RCMP media relations officer Chris Terleski.
We hoofed it through a residential neighbourhood, including a few backyards, as Hawkes and Jagger tracked a scent back to their favourite toy. Their reward? Playtime.
Rutten said the PDS is a division unlike any other.
“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” he said. “I’ve been doing it for 16 years.
“You’re outside all the time, you get to ride with your dog, so you have him to keep you company. You go to the best calls, the hot calls, usually the more important calls so you don’t get tied down with more boring stuff.”
When the work is all said and done, Jagger and Hawkes reside with their handlers.
“They are part of their family,” Terleski said.
From everyone at the Morning Star, we wish this very special pup a very happy 6th birthday!
– portions of this story were first published Feb. 3, 2021.