When the last episode of the current series of Dog Squad Puppy School screens on Tuesday Constable Andrew Smart will be able to look back at just how far he and Talon have come.
The Bay of Plenty pair’s journey to becoming operational will feature in the final episode on 20 April, but the time between the show filming and airing means the pair have now been operational for 10 months.
“Talon is going well. He’s recently qualified as a Search and Rescue dog so he’s doing good, we’re still finding our feet.”
Andrew says while Talon is still “pretty young and a bit immature for AOS”, the SAR qualification gives him a specialty to add to his general duty work.
“The next step for him in terms of further development is to train in victim recovery work.”
The past 10 months have also been a learning curve for Andrew, as a first-time handler.
“I came from frontline Public Safety Team,” he says. “It’s similar in the sense you’re responding to the same type of role but you do feel a lot more responsibility. It’s easy to put a lot of pressure on yourself as people are looking to you.”
Despite that, he’s loving it.
“It’s a huge learning curve, it doesn’t stop, but it’s great seeing the dog develop. I enjoy the autonomy of the role and knowing I can 100 per cent count on Talon having my back.”
Andrew says filming the show put a bit of added pressure on at qualifying time, it’s also a great reminder of their progress.
And Andrew isn't the only handler moving on from puppy school. Waikato Constable Scott Gosnell and Apex, who graduated with Andrew and Talon in June 2020, are also facing their final appearance on the show.
See how all their hard training paid off on Dog Squad Puppy School at 7.30pm on TV One on Tuesday, April 20. It can also be watched on TVNZ on Demand.