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Westshore RCMP’s German shepherd Halla transitions into a new role

She will be the first dog in Ottawa's RCMP reintegration program

Corporal Lewis and Halla. Photo: Nancy Saggar / Westshore RCMP

For five years, patrol dog Halla worked beside her partner Corporal Dave Lewis, answering hundreds of calls for service in the Westshore and her prior post in Kamloops. Now, new adventures are on the way for the seven-year-old German shepherd, as she retires from West Shore RCMP calls and transitions into a new role.

“We have three German shepherd dogs here—two are males and she was the only female,” says Cpl. Nancy Saggar, who had the opportunity to work with Lewis and Halla.

Lewis and Halla were paired when she was a puppy, so their bond grew strong over her five years of service. Halla was trained to specialize in tracking people, searching for evidence and explosives detection, but what made her even more special was her playful spirit and hardworking attitude.

“Definitely any police dog that you have, they’re trait is to be very dominant because it’s just a part of the working personality, but she was also very playful and her favourite toy was a rubber chicken,” says Saggar. “She's just a hard worker, and the companionship between her and [Lewis] goes beyond just a work companionship, they're totally best friends.”

Saggar mentioned that police dogs retire with around five to eight years of service, as the department hopes to ensure a healthy quality of life for the dogs after retirement, but Halla hasn’t finished her work quite yet. Halla is joining a program that started in 2015 in Ottawa known as the RCMP national reintegration where she will help reintegrate police officers who have experienced PTSD.

“It kind of happened organically, I went through the course because Halla and I have been through some rough stuff and it really helped me, and so did she,” says Lewis. “I told the director about it and he arranged for a meeting where people could interact with her and it’s become this huge resource.”

The National Reintegration Program is a peer-driven initiative created to help Mounties back into service after a critical/traumatic experience or lengthy absence. Halla will be the first dog in the program, and Lewis is finishing off his final days at the Westshore RCMP before he and Halla make the journey to Ottawa.

“If someone working on reintegration is nervous and we’re driving around, I’ll tell them Halla needs a break and ask them if they’d like to step out as well,” says Lewis. “Oftentimes, unbeknownst to them, it’s to help them feel more comfortable and Halla will come and say hi and give them kisses and help calm them down.”