Obi can find anything. From missing people and property to criminals and evidence. A large part of what makes him such a fantastic police sniffer dog is-unsurprisingly-his nose. ‘He’s also got the most brilliant calm, balanced nature,’ says PC Phil Wells, the German shepherd’s handler of nearly 3½ years. ‘He loves meeting people and nothing ever seems to faze him.’
PC Wells has had Obi (or LinPol Luke, to use his full name), since he was an eight-week-old puppy and started training. The pair has worked together every day since. Obi was bred at the Metropolitan Police Dog Training Establishment, in Keston, Kent-the Met has its own breeding programme, to ensure that it gets the best possible calibre of dog. These are, for the most part, spaniels and German shepherds, who work until they’re about eight years old. At 12 months, all Met police puppies are tested for suitability. Once Obi passed this phase, he and PC Wells went on a three-month course together.
A Met police dog from Obi’s unit patrols Heathrow every day, as part of the aviation security programme, and he works there on a regular basis. But Obi’s CV extends far beyond sniffing and narcotics into football matches, ‘reassurance visits’, and, most notably, last year’s riots in London, where he was one of 40 dogs working across the city. ‘I was incredibly proud of how well he worked through the disturbances, especially after being hit on the head by a brick, thrown from the crowd.’
Far from being daunted, PC Wells says that Obi seemed focused, and keen to continue with his work. ‘He showed remarkable courage, above and beyond the call of duty.’ Following CT scans the next day, it emerged that Obi’s skull was fractured, but after much ‘love and recuperation’, he was soon back to his ‘bouncing best’. He recently received an award for his bravery during the riots. Obi and PC Wells continue to work as part of 1 Unit Dog Support in north-west London.