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Canine connects cops with community

Paddy Cakes goes on a call with Cst. Seth Thomas. Credit: Cst. Seth Thomas

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She's not a police dog or a therapy dog; she's simply a rescued dog. But Paddy Cakes is far from ordinary.

Two years ago, Cst. Seth Thomas developed a special bond with a stray dog at the Whati Detachment in G Division while doing relief work. She was shy at first, but when he started to feed her, she began to trust him.

"Eventually I coaxed her inside and after that she would follow me around," says Thomas. "Then I got her inside the truck and she's been with me ever since. It's like she adopted me."

Since then, Paddy Cakes, who he named after the children's rhyme, has traveled all over the North doing relief work with Thomas. He's noticed that with her by his side, they make friends wherever they go.

"She's helped me bridge the gap between the youth and the RCMP," says Thomas. "I'm able to talk to the kids because the kids can identify with Paddy Cakes, which allows them to identify with the RCMP."

Thomas was posted to Behchoko Detachment last June. Before Paddy Cakes, the detachment rarely had visitors, but since their arrival, it's become a hub for local children that come to visit the dog.

It's a change for the better, says Cpl. Kirk Hughes, Operations NCO at Behchoko Detachment. She's managed to break down barriers between the RCMP and the community.

"Her gentle and calm nature drew people in and once they start coming inside, they realized we're here to help," says Hughes.

She's even provided emotional support to children who had to give statements to the RCMP in a traumatic abuse case. At first the children wouldn't talk. Suddenly, when one of them saw Paddy Cakes just outside the detachment, he told her the whole story.

So they brought the kids back in, this time with Paddy Cakes there, and they felt comfortable enough to tell their story.

While they aren't sure what kind of dog Paddy Cakes is, one thing is clear, she's a special breed.

"She embodies compassion," says Hughes. "And through her, we become approachable. We're glad to have her."

Reprinted with permission from the Pony Express (No. 2, 2015).

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