A police K-9 working for the Vancouver Police Department in British Columbia, Canada, got a lot of attention completing a daring-looking training exercise last month.
Niko was learning rappelling, and although he was strapped in a harness for the exercise, held onto his handler’s leg during the training. The photo captured and posted on social media by the Vancouver Police Department went viral:
Some people naturally expressed concern over the dog’s safety. But the VPD was quick to assure them that there was no need to worry. “PSD Niko was in a proper body sling and is fully supported,” one comment from the police department read. And another said, "The dog is in a proper sling. He's just spun and taken a hold of his handler's leg in an effort to stabilize him in what might be his first rappelling adventure. The safety and comfort of our dogs is paramount."
The department also clarified why this training is essential:
“Rappelling is a vital skill for our tactical teams to have, and it tests both handler and dog. In the training scenario in the photo, PSD Niko was introduced slowly to the task, and his handler rewarded him with praise and a game of tug-o-war afterwards (you can see the toy sticking out of the officer's back pocket).”
Niko is frequently mentioned on the VPD Canine Unit’s Twitter page, apprehending suspects and more recently attending press conferences. He is also featured in the Vancouver Police Dogs Calendar 2016, which is available here and benefits the BC Cancer Foundation and the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. It sells for $10.