Ein belgischer Schäferhund sitzt in einem grünen Garten auf der Wiese. Er schaut direkt in die Kamera und hat die Ohren gespitzt. Im Hintergrund sind Bäume und blauer Himmel zu sehen.
Author: Karen Hanne
Pictures: Jennifer Reimann

A hero on four paws

There are many heroes who help us in our everyday lives. Some wear helmets and uniforms, others shirts and ties. And then there are heroes who walk on four paws and perform tasks that no human could do as well as they do. One of these heroes works for the Hamburg police with his dog handler Jennifer Reimann. Police dog Haix has already survived dangerous missions and caught criminals.

From puppy to guard dog

Three and a half years ago, the male dog Haix moved in with Jennifer, at the age of twelve weeks. Because of the breeding line, the name of the dog was supposed to start with H. “And I wanted a name related to the job. I then said Haix, that would fit, that’s also an unusual name.”

Ein belgischer Schäferhund macht Sitz vor einem Streifenwagen der Polizei

Since then, the Belgian Shepherd has been in her care and masters his tasks day after day. Normally, police dog handlers are given a dog of about one year old, with whom you start training together. In Hamburg, there is a special project: some policemen and policewomen get their four-legged companion already as a puppy and raise it themselves. “This takes one and a half to two years until the dog is trained and ready for duty,” says Jennifer

A team – at home and on duty

Haix is not only Jennifer’s police dog, he also lives in her home. “The dogs stay with the handlers at their home,” she says. That promotes cooperation. The daily routine together is the basis for the trust that the dog and the police officer must have in each other. “That’s how I know what the dog needs.” For working with the animal, it is important that Jennifer recognizes what her dog is trying to communicate to her through certain behaviors. “In addition, the dog needs connection,” he needs a social environment, a pack in which he is integrated.

Tracking in action

Haix is not only trained as a protection dog, but has also completed a specialization as an explosives detection dog. In order for him to distinguish between his tasks, there are various rituals before a mission. The procedures, as well as the collar for an explosives detection mission, are different from his work as a police guard dog.

Dogs perform different tasks in police service. “For example, if a building has been broken into and the perpetrator may still be in the property, the dog is sent in,” Jennifer explains. “He can search a much larger area through its nose.” Here, Haix, off leash, independently searches areas in the property assigned to him by Jennifer and indicates, for example, by barking when he has found someone.

As a protection dog, Haix can also detect means of crime, such as tools used by a burglar. “Haix has once found a perpetrator who blew up cash machines,” the officer says. “He’s also found a Rolex before and a sledgehammer that was used in a burglary.” Protection dogs are also used at large events, such as the G7 summit at Schloss Elmau or Memorial Day in Berlin.

A dangerous job

Working for the police sometimes involves risky missions – this is true for two-legged heroes as well as their four-legged companions. Haix has already made this experience. “We were called to an operation where a man threatened his mother,” says Jennifer. During the attack, the man injured the Belgian Shepherd with a knife, stabbing him in the neck and under the eye.

“We immediately went to a veterinary clinic after first aid with pressure bandages,” recalls the policewoman. There, the wounds were treated and stitched. At first, Jennifer was worried that her dog’s eye had been damaged, but she was given the all-clear. “He had to wear a neck brace for ten days, then the stitches came out.” After a recovery period, Haix was able to return to duty. “He works the same after the incident as he did before. He’s still doing his job,” she says. And Haix does a good job – a true hero on four paws.

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