Lethbridge Police Service (LPS) is looking for help naming a 12-week-old Belgian Malinois, who is training to become the newest member of the K9 unit. The department is holding a naming contest, which is open to children aged four to 14 who reside in the jurisdiction of LPS.
The puppy’s arrival marks the first time in decades a puppy will be trained and tested entirely in-house for the department. LPS has taken on dogs about 15-months to two years old in the past, who have already been tested to determine if they are fit for policing, according to police.
The puppy comes from an anonymous donor, according to Const. Braylon Hyggen, who the dog currently resides with. He has started teaching the puppy obedience with basic commands such as sit and down.
Hyggen said he hopes to begin training the puppy to track in about two weeks, starting with finding things in the grass. From there he will learn to detect people hidden in buildings.
“We will also work on drug detection, as well as I would like to do something I am not sure we have done yet — none of our dogs are trained on firearms, so locating and indicating on firearms,” Hyggen said.
In about a year and a half, he will be tested to ensure his temperament is suited to police work and will be able to begin a 20 week K9 handler course. Hyggen said he, along with another officer, will be retiring with their dogs around the time the new puppy will be ready to hit the streets in 2024. Hyggen hopes the puppy will be able to replace his dog Myke on the force, who is seven and a half years old.
“Myke isn’t a fan of him right now — I think he is thinking of him as a little ankle biter so tends to want to avoid him,” Hyggen said. “He will probably be training with me mostly.”
LPS encourages participants to be creative and orginal with name submissions, but asks kids to keep in mind that the puppy will be a working member of the force and not a pet. Each child may submit one entry only, the name must be one or two syllables and contain no more than 9 letters — Hyggen said these guidelines are for clarity and ease of training.
The deadline to submit entries is July 4 and the winning name will be chosen by a panel of K9 officers. The child whose name is chosen will get a chance to meet the puppy. There will also be other prizes, including a photo and plush toy of a Malinois.
Entries can be submitted online or by going to the police station front desk.
LPS said it also welcomes drawings or artwork included with submissions, however this is not mandatory and will not impact the selection process.