• Cindy Zampa


Legacy of K9 Units and Service Animals

In 1928, Sergeant John Cawsey brought a unique weapon to the arsenal used at the Bassano, Alberta, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) detachment - a dog.

After buying a dog as a companion for his daughter, Sgt. Cawsey began training him. Named 'Dale of Cawsalta', ('Caws-' being short for Cawsey and '-alta' short for Alberta), he soon proved to be an intelligent partner, so Cawsey began taking the dog to work with him.

Dale led Cawsey and another policeman through a blinding blizzard to the safety of a cabin after their car stalled on a prairie road. On another occasion, Dale located a lost 2 year old girl for whom 100 men had been searching for 16 hours. On the way to the search, Dale sniffed out two wanted men who had been hiding in a field.

The RCMP recognized the valuable work done by Dale, so they purchased Dale and Dale's son. The two dogs became members of the force, each given regimental numbers, thereby establishing the first K9 Unit in Alberta.

A monument to Cawsey and Dale is now installed at the RCMP Police Dog training facility at Innisfail, a place well worth visiting. Training demonstrations are available, showing how the police dogs are trained using positive reinforcement techniques. Knowing about, and encouraging, the dog's natural instincts that have proven beneficial in accomplishing various police tasks is only one way dogs leave a lasting legacy. Their unconditional love and companionship leave a legacy beyond compare!

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