Former Canora resident living his dream as a constable in the Saskatoon Police Service Canine Unit

Cst. Chad Malanowich is living his dream working in law enforcement with the Saskatoon Police Service as a member of the canine unit.

Raised on a farm near Canora, the son of Harvey and Stella Malanowich, he recalls it as a privilege that dogs were part of his life. In hindsight, it is easy to understand that developing strong bonds with his canine friends was the foundation of developing training techniques that continue to serve him in his career path. Since he always wanted to be in law enforcement, after graduating from Canora Composite School in 1997 he geared his post-secondary education towards that goal. He began his policing career with the Calgary Police Service in 2001 and in 2004 he transferred to the Saskatoon Police Service (SPS). Achieving the dream became reality in 2007 when he became a member of the SPS Canine Unit.

Currently working with his third Police Service Dog (PSD), named PSD Tyr, the pair are making news across Canada because his partner is the first and only Giant Schnauzer patrol dog in Canada. Giant Schnauzers have worked in such a capacity in the U.S., but very limited.

The SPS Canine Unit is the largest police canine unit, per capita, in Canada, said Malanowich. The Unit consists of one sergeant, eight constables, and nine dogs. The Unit currently utilizes German Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, and the new star, a Giant Schnauzer for patrol.

Public interaction is a significant part of policing and as such, the SPS Canine Unit has its own Twitter board, on which the public can follow the exploits of the Unit in which the dogs are the stars. It is common for short blurps about each PSD’s significant contributions – usually combined with a picture of the PSD. Malanowich and his partner PSD Tyr are routinely featured on the Internet site which has a significant number of followers.

Even before being formally invested into the Canine Unit, Malanowich first started thinking of police dog breed alternatives after attending the Canadian Police Canine Association Trainer’s Conference in 2006. One guest speaker spoke about how the average price of an untrained German

Shepherd police dog candidate had sky-rocketed after the tragic events of 9/11 in the U.S. The drastic escalation in price was due to the now increasing demand for working dogs by the military, police, and private contractors to aid in national security. As demand went up, so did the price. The speaker elaborated on how the majority of police departments in North America were forced to pay this inflated price because they limited themselves to only working the German Shepherd breed even though many other suitable breeds were available. So, it got him thinking.

While researching police dog breeds from around the world Malanowich immediately took an interest in the Giant Schnauzer. The Giant Schnauzer is a large, powerful breed that was being used for police work in other parts of the world, mainly Europe, with great success. The longer working life expectancy of the breed was also very appealing.

The Giant Schnauzer and the German Shepherd share a very similar working history. Both breeds originated in Germany where they worked alongside farmers, said Malanowich. Giant Schnauzers drove livestock to market and protected both farm and urban properties. The breed became popular in both World Wars and as a police dog. The German Shepherd became more popular in North America because the breed arrived here first and was further popularized with the advent of radio, television, and fi lm.

When Malanowich’s previous German Shepherd PSD prematurely started showing signs of medical issues he began looking for a suitable Giant Schnauzer candidate for an experiment. On October 30, 2010 he received a 14week old puppy named ‘Hugo von der Leidenschaft’ from Leidenschaft Kennels located in Jemseg, New Brunswick. This kennel specializes in the breeding of Giant Schnauzers from European working bloodlines.

Malanowich renamed his puppy “Tyr” after the Norse God of Justice. Tyr remained with Malanowich where he was raised amongst his family and other dogs. On his own, Malanowich trained Tyr in basic obedience and narcotics detection. He also socialized Tyr amongst people and animals and exposed him to various environments.

“I had bigger plans for Tyr’s training but those fell through when I took on another young dog to pre-train for our unit. The dog I pre-trained is currently a PSD working on the street with another handler.”

With the support of the Saskatoon Police Service, Tyr and Malanowich were authorized to attend the four-month SPS K9 Training Program on a trial-basis in the spring of 2012. This program teaches the dog the art of tracking, criminal apprehension, obedience, agility, evidence searching, and searching for persons in various environments. Tyr excelled at his training and successfully graduated the program on September 24, 2012, becoming the first Giant Schnauzer patrol dog in Canada.

As with most dogs in the Canine Unit, after completing the four-month training program and working patrol, PSD Tyr continued his cross-training in narcotics detection.

“Once our dogs have successfully completed their four months of patrol training and have experience working the street they then begin additional training in the specialty detection profile, either narcotics or explosives.”

Again PSD Tyr excelled and his duties have evolved to include deploying with the SPS Tactical Unit and Narcotics Detection. That meant additional training for Tyr and for Malanowich.

Malanowich notes that the Canine Unit is a separate entity from the Tactical Unit; however, a PSD is part of the tactical deployment package so a member(s) of the Canine Unit will deploy on all tactical calls. The PSD is used to apprehend suspects that may attempt to flee these scenes and will be used to search areas where a suspect may be hiding that poses a threat to tactical members.

The Canine Unit is a support unit attached to Patrol Division, he said. “Our primary role is to attend: all criminal calls in progress, scenes where a suspect has fled on foot or is hiding at or near the scene and calls that are violent in nature or when a weapon/firearm is involved. When not attending these sorts of calls we are constantly training with our canine partners to maintain and enhance our skills. We also spend time working in the community by providing K9 talks and demonstrations to various groups.”

Being a large municipal police department his unit stays busy, said Malanowich. The SPS has two canine teams assigned to working in the city around the clock.

The PSD’s main role is as a patrol dog but the ones that are cross trained in detection will be used in such capacity when requested by Patrol or any other unit in need. “For example, I can be called anytime during my shift to conduct a narcotics search with Tyr.”

“Our unit regularly assists the RCMP when their canine unit is not available.”

All said and done, there is a lot of training that must be conducted on a daily basis (patrol, tactical, detection) in order to maintain the PSD’s skills, said Malanowich Malanowich says it is difficult to accurately identify any definite training or working differences between the Giant Schnauzer and the German Shepherd as Tyr is just one specimen out of his breed. All dogs, no matter the breed, come with their own personality. It is unknown if some of the observed differences noted are a breed trait or just a character trait of Tyr’s. As far as training goes, Tyr was no different to train as he possessed the necessary drives and determination to work.

The most obvious difference is Tyr’s physical appearance, said Malanowich. His athletic build and long legs make him much faster and more agile than a Shepherd. Tyr is also able to jump greater heights and balance himself on smaller surfaces.

The coat of the Giant Schnauzer is hypo-allergenic and sheds very little, he said. When grown out, his thick, dense coat helps him endure the harsh Saskatchewan winters better than a Shepherd. The hair between the toes grows long, forming an insulating barrier between the pads of the feet and the frozen ground. The coat is shaved right down in the warmer months to aid in cooling. With all these advantages comes the only disadvantage and that’s grooming.

When a PSD retires

“I had the pleasure of working with two great German Shepherd dogs previous to Tyr. My first dog, Cain, was a long-haired Shepherd from Holland who was prematurely retired due to a degenerative eye disease causing him to go blind. My second dog, Shadow, came from the RCMP Kennels in Innisfail, Alta. but he developed back issues and also had to be prematurely retired.”

When a PSD is retired, the handler has the option to buy him from the Service for the very small fee of $1, said Malanowich. Most Handlers purchase their PSD to live with them or with a member of their family.

“I purchased both my retired PSDs. Cain lived out the last of his days on my parents’ farm just outside of Canora. Shadow continues to live with me.”

When a PSD retires it’s usually due to a medical issue, Malanowich said. Since retired PSDs don’t receive any sort of a pension or medical coverage the handler is responsible for all expenses. The Saskatchewan SPCA just launched the Stryker K9 Care Fund earlier this year to alleviate some of the financial burden faced by the handlers. All retired police dogs in the province are eligible and the program is funded by donations which can be made through its website at http://sspca.ca.

“Dog handlers spend more time with their canine partners then they do with members of their own family,” Malanowich said. “Their canine partner comes to work with them everyday and spends everyday off with them at home. It is very devastating to lose your canine partner. It’s like losing a member of your immediate family. As a team you face situations together that the majority of the public will never experience or can even imagine. You rely on one another to come home safe at the end of your shift.”

Tyr is a star

Many canine units from around the country have inquired about this breed for police work.

“Whenever I attend training courses or seminars, handlers are both intrigued and impressed with Tyr when they see him work. I am constantly fielding questions.”

When the workday is done

“Tyr comes home with me at the end of shifts and lives amongst my family and my retired PSD Shadow. He has his own kennel area and doghouse in the back yard. Due to the strenuous nature of our job, Tyr spends a lot of his time off relaxing in his kennel area to get ready for our next shift. We go on daily walks and he plays with the kids in the house.

“When we do travel, especially to Canora, he travels with us.”

Malanowich and his wife, Nicole, just celebrated their 10year wedding anniversary. They have two children, both girls, Alexandra and Cassidy.

“I take every opportunity I can to travel back to Canora and area to visit with family and friends. Because the farm is still a passion of mine, I end up spending most of my visits helping my father and brother (Clayton) with their grain farm operation.”
 

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