“Vegeta is the good student, the one who wants to do well. I never had to get angry”smiles on the phone Arnaud, training instructor at the National Center for Dog Training of the Gramat Gendarmerie (CNICG), in Lot.
A few months ago, it would have been difficult to imagine a military career for this very young Malinois, who was then welcomed into a refuge in Toulon.
He spots a volunteer
This summer, Vegeta was at the Lagoubran Animal Assistance Foundation shelter, coming from the Island of Beauty, where his health and his future were obviously threatened.
The dog was welcomed on the harbor shore, and the dog’s very sociable and very playful character caught the eye of a volunteer from the shelter, who is also a policeman in the big city.
“The Malinois is a dog which, well trained, responds to orders”witnesses Nicolas, who, seeing his potential, decides to present him to the gendarmerie.
Off he goes towards Cuers, where the Var dog intervention group is located.
Test Vegeta’s playing level
In September, Vegeta is left to the brigade’s dog handlers. Purpose: to check the abilities perceived by their colleague.
The state of health examined, the soldiers will then “target the dog’s character”: “his sociability is very important and you have to test his level of play, details one of them. The dog will associate the appearance of the sought-after material with the appearance of its toy. It’s all about play. A dog that is addicted to his toys like Vegeta was with a stuffed animal will work well.”
The products you are looking for? Drugs, weapons, ammunition and banknotes, grouped under the acronym “Sambi”. His self-sacrifice,”see if he gives up quickly or not”will also be one of the selection criteria.
“We immediately saw that he had potential. In spirit, we tell ourselves that this is the kind of dog we want”, confides one of Cuersoi’s dog handlers, who rubbed shoulders with him for a month.
The tests passed “hands down”, the young Malinois left the shores of the Mediterranean for Lot.
Vegeta is now in the hands of Arnaud, trainer instructor at CNICG in Gramat (near Rocamadour).
“We have three months to break the dog in because we don’t have them as babies. Everything is through play, there are no restrictions. We make him understand that he has to find (drugs, weapons, ammunition and tickets)”, explains the dog handler, visibly under the spell of the Malinois. “He sometimes has clownish attitudes. He’s very endearing, he likes interacting with people.”
In short, a good student, now very far from the Lagoubran refuge.
For Vegeta, the next step will be January 4, when the military calls it “the wedding ceremony”.
On this day, the dog will be assigned to a dog handler in training. Not just any. “You have to find a champion that matches the dog’s character. Vegeta isn’t a great character, but he’s not neutral. You can’t pair him with a champion that has a strong character”explains Arnaud.
Once the marriage is celebrated, the gendarme puts on his director’s hat and teaches the new couple how to get to know each other and work together.
If the duo pass the two scheduled exams during the 14-week internship, it will be the start of a career in the gendarmerie for Vegeta… Much to the satisfaction of Nicolas, who is closely following the career of his young Toulon protégé.
Every year, many dogs are tested at the Groupe d’investigation cynophile du Var, in Cuers, or at the Center national d’instruction cynophile (CNICG) in Gramat (Lot), where all the dogs of the gendarmerie are trained, as well as their masters.
The dogs are either offered by “beaters”, professionals whose job it is, or by individuals who have discovered potential in their animal, or simply that they must part with it. Another case, that of a dog from a shelter, as in the case of Vegeta. The Malinois was welcomed in Lagoubran in Toulon. “We are quite often asked to test dogs. We test 15-20 a year”, entrusts a dog handler to Cuers. Generally, at the time of their “recruitment” they are between 10 and 30 months old. Their “engagement” in the gendarmerie lasts between 7 and 9 years.
“To be effective, you need an osmosis between the dog and his master. We work with him throughout his career. Besides, we don’t talk about work. For the dog, it’s play.”
And once retired? “Most of us keep them,” leaves a policeman.