On July 26, 2010, Delta Police Victim Services introduced a Trauma K9 to its ranks. Caber is a two-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, generously provided to the program by the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS).
PADS bred and trained Caber who is a Canine Assisted Intervention (CAI) dog. PADS is accredited through Assistance Dogs International (ADI) which adheres to the highest caliber of training standards available.
Caber began his official training at just 8 weeks of age in the Puppy Education Program at PADS. From there he ventured out in the world to live with his puppy raiser (in Calgary) until his return to PADS for advanced training. Caber remained at PADS until just after his second birthday when he was selected to join Delta Police Victim Services. In determining if Caber was right for Victim Services, PADS training staff brought him to the police department to expose him to the chaos of police cars, lights and loud sirens. With a loud siren and revving engine beside him, Caber did little more than tilt his head to the side. He traversed through the police building and was calm and comfortable with everyone and in every setting. PADS staff even exposed Caber to loud crying and intense emotion to determine if he responded favourably to the work of Victim Services. Caber was comfortable with every test he was given.
Caber responds to approximately 25 commands and his handler is “clicker training” him on fun new commands all the time.
Caber is the first Trauma K9 in a Victim Services setting in Canada. He is an extremely calm and docile dog, very endearing and affectionate. Caber, and other CAI dogs, can have a calming and comforting effect on people. They have the capacity to reduce a person’s blood pressure; provide cathartic and healing touch; encourage and promote healthy communication and defuse extreme and troubling emotions. Caber is exceptional at all of the above.
There are three Victim Services staff who are now fully trained to be Caber‘s handlers. Kim Gramlich is the Program Coordinator and Caber‘s primary handler and “Mom”. He lives with her and comes to work with her each day. The handlers took a week of training to learn a variety of topics including canine psychology, canine health and grooming, public etiquette, command structure, and corrections. The PADS training was excellent and fully prepared them to deploy Caber safely and effectively.
Since graduating, Caber has proven himself in response to the homicide of 15-year-old Laura Szendrei in North Delta. Caber and his handler responded to Laura’s school to support friends, students, teachers, and parents.
Caber had a remarkable impact on many people at the school. Caber elicited significant emotion and tears. Caber was also asked to attend each of Laura’s classes on the first full day back in school. Remarkably, he sat beside her desk in her absence, completing her timetable for her.
Several times throughout that day Caber could be seen surrounded by up to 10 youth, petting and playing with him on the floor.
In early 2013 Caber took his career to new heights by becoming Canada’s first Courthouse Dog. Along with the Surrey Crown Counsel, a pilot project began where Caber attends Crown Counsel pre-trial interviews to provide comfort to victims when they are discussing their testimony. The next phase of this project will hopefully include Caber‘s attendance in court. When that occurs Caber will sit with a victim in the witness box while they testify. This new initiative would not be possible without the support of Winston Sayson and Paul Sandhu from the Surrey Crown Counsel office.
In Caber‘s first 2.5 years with Victim Services he has provided direct support to over 500 victims. Along with his handler, Kim Gramlich, Caber has presented to over 3500 people from various groups, and at conferences throughout Canada and North America.
There are countless stories about Caber‘s exceptional work with victims of crime and trauma. He is changing lives, one client at a time. Part of the reason for the success of this program is the simple fact that dogs aren’t judgmental. They don’t see such things as your religion, race, age or sexual orientation. They are unbiased and unconditional in their affection.
Caber brings out the best in all of us.
For more information about Caber please contact Kim Gramlich at 604.940.5007.