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Nova Scotia officer following in father's footsteps as RCMP dog handler heads to first post in Newfoundland


As a child, RCMP Const. Richard Bushey helped his father by being the quarry for his police dog.

Now Bushey has a canine partner of his own, making him one of only a handful of officers who have followed in a parent's footsteps as an RCMP dog handler.

Bushey is off to Newfoundland this week with his partner, Kane, for his first posting since completing the Police Dog Service training program last August. The duo have worked on more than 40 cases in Kings County while waiting for his move.

Bushey has been an RCMP member for more than 12 years, and spent six and a half years trying to get into the highly competitive dog handlers program.

“I'm a dog lover, my father had 25-plus years in the dog section. From a very young age being a police officer was something I wanted to do,” he said. “I saw the way he was with his dogs and the bond he had with them, going to work with his best friend every day.”

He made a decision that if he became a police officer, being a dog handler was something he wanted to do.

RCMP Const. Richard Bushey is starting his career as a dog handler with his partner, Kane. Bushey's father was also a dog handler with the RCMP. - Ian Fairclough
RCMP Const. Richard Bushey is starting his career as a dog handler with his partner, Kane. Bushey's father was also a dog handler with the RCMP. - Ian Fairclough

Bushey's first posting was in the Northwest Territories, which is not an ideal location for getting into the dog service. He spent five years there and then came back to Kings County.

Once back, he touched base with the local dog handler and his canine partner as part of his work to try to get into the program. He acted as quarry for them, laying tracks to be followed, hiding in grass, and assisting with criminal apprehension training. That meant wearing a protective suit to be grabbed by the dog.

“You show that you're interested, that you have the ability to listen and to interact with the dogs,” he said. “You're the guinea pig.”

Within a year he was selected to move on to the imprinting course, which involves learning to raise a puppy in the program. That meant socialization and familiarization, taking them to places like airports, schools, the woods and high traffic areas to build their confidence so that no environment affects them negatively.

Intensive training

That part of the service is all volunteer. Bushey was imprinting for six years and raised five dogs, the last being Kane.

“It just happened to be that he was at the right age when I was selected to go to the police dog service course,” Bushey said.

Kane is a multi-purpose dog, with a specialty in explosives detection.

The four-and-a-half month police dog service course is the longest in the RCMP outside the initial training to be a member of the force.

“It's mentally and physically draining,” Bushey said.

He said the bond between a handler and their dog, and the trust they have with each other is the most important part of being a team.

“I trust him with my life, and I think he trusts me with his. It's a great feeling to come to work every day and have a partner that's always happy, always wants to have fun, and is ready to work and willing to do anything to make you happy.”

Bushey said he thinks being around his father's dogs as a child gave him an advantage in the program.

“I can remember quarrying for my father when I was 10 or 12 years old,” he said. “The experience I had growing up was overwhelming and prepared me to be selected and become a dog handler.”

Now, it's his father, Rick, who retired three years ago, who is taking the turn helping with Kane's ongoing training.

“I'll pick him up and we'll go do a track or an explosive's search,” Bushey said. “It's very beneficial to me to have someone with that much experience around who can still help me out."

He said his father has been very supportive of everything he has done in the force, “but I think it has definitely made him proud that I'm following in his footsteps.”


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