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Rookie hangs up his leash

Const. Chris Kajan with Rookie and Dutch. Rookie worked his last shift Wednesday night (Jan. 9) and Dutch starts official training on Jan. 14. - Tracy Holmes / Black Press
Const. Chris Kajan with Rookie and Dutch. Rookie worked his last shift Wednesday night (Jan. 9) and Dutch starts official training on Jan. 14.
— image credit: Tracy Holmes / Black Press

After nearly eight years in pursuit of bad guys, the RCMP’s Rookie is hanging up his leash.

Rookie, a German shepherd partnered with Const. Chris Kajan in the Lower Mainland District Integrated Police Dog Services Unit, worked his last shift last week.

He ended his service in style, tracking and catching a theft suspect just hours before calling it a career.

The partners – among 44 police-dog teams in the police dog service – happened to be in the Whalley neighbourhood when the call for assistance came around 3 a.m. last Thursday. A stolen Honda Civic had been dumped at the side of a road and the driver had fled on foot.

Rookie quickly picked up a track and he and Kajan followed the trail through a residential area and over a fence, catching up to the suspect as he tried to scale a second fence.

Rookie pulled the man down by his leg, and Kajan took a 32-year-old into custody.

“Rookie’s last shift couldn’t have been better,” Kajan said. “He made me really proud.”

The pair have been on the beat together in Surrey, White Rock and Langley since 2006. They made headlines nearly four years ago, after both were dragged while trying to stop a stolen-car suspect. Kajan and Rookie had been called to the 17100-block of 0 Avenue to track an alleged border runner when the chase took an unexpected turn. A second man who ran to a car at the sight of the officer sped off as Kajan reached in through the vehicle window in an attempt to stop him.

Kajan suffered scrapes, bruises and a knee injury; Rookie was uninjured.

More recently, the pair nabbed a man found to have five outstanding warrants for his arrest, after tracking a suspect for nearly an hour through rural properties from 176 Street and 23 Avenue to 172 Street and 32 Avenue.

They were also on duty in November the day two South Surrey elementary schools were locked down while police investigated an interrupted break-and-enter in the Morgan Creek area. Two individuals were arrested.

“We’ve been through a lot, in all sorts of areas, too,” Kajan, 37, said, citing robberies, missing-person alerts and break-ins as among the types of files they’ve worked on throughout the Lower Mainland over the years.

“I’m sure he’ll miss it.”

Kajan started preparing Rookie for retirement just over a year ago. The role of family pet is far less intense than that of a working police dog, and he knew the transition would take time.

Throughout his career, home for Rookie has been an outdoor enclosure and doghouse in Kajan’s Langley backyard. He never went on family trips, and his feeding schedule was reward-based. Since October, however, Rookie has been discovering life inside Kajan’s family home. Last month, for the first time, he was included in Christmas festivities, taking it all in from a perch atop the dog bed Kajan gave him as a present.

He’s also been camping, has frolicked on the beach and goes for walks with Kajan’s wife – activities that simply weren’t options before.

Kajan also had to wean Rookie off of his training, leaving him in his vehicle more often to watch as Kajan began introducing his new canine partner, Dutch, to police work. The new partners officially started duty on Monday.

Hours after finishing his last shift last week, Rookie – along with Kajan and Dutch – took to trails in South Surrey’s Campbell Heights.

While Rookie showed a bit of a cheeky side, seeming to know he didn’t have to follow orders quite as stringently anymore, it was clear by his intent focus that the police dog in him won’t soon disappear.

“He’s always have that in him,” said Kajan.

 

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