Eli the legend – one of the longest serving police service dogs in B.C.

Terrace, Police Dog Services

2024-06-10 11:00 PDT

RCMP Police Service Dog (PSD) Eli is an impressive looking German shepherd with a mix of black, dark brown and honey-hued fur. His copper-coloured eyes and stand-at-attention ears confirm his natural curiosity and his state of awareness.

RCMP police service dog Eli is at the door of the police car and puts his paw on his human handler’s chest. Eli is ready to work.

Eli is a legend. At nearly 12-years-old with nearly 10-years of service, he is an anomaly among police dogs who often retire around 7-years-old.

But it’s not just Eli’s length of service, age or good looks that set this exceptional animal apart. It’s his drive, his temperament and performance over the years that has earned Eli a special place among the fabled police dogs of the RCMP.

PSD Eli and his handler Corporal Jarrod Trickett are based at the Terrace Detachment. The pair track a vast northern region of British Columbia from the coast of Haida Gwaii to the Terrace area and many points north, south and east.

RCMP Police Service Dog Eli sits on the grass with an orange ball in his mouth.

There are few searches that don’t involve Eli and the corporal trudging through waist-high snow, an unruly maze of trees, brush and bramble. On one such adventure, the pair were in search of a man who was lost after his truck broke down near Hazelton. When they found him, the man was so cold and disoriented that he thought he was in Vancouver’s Stanley Park searching for his family. Had Cpl. Trickett and Eli found him just an hour or two later, the outcome could have been fatal. We worked really hard to find him, recalls Cpl. Trickett.

The dogged—pun intended—determination of Eli and his handler has repeated many times over the last 10 years.

Cpl. Trickett recalls one of the most dangerous tracks of his career that corresponded with a bone-chilling December night. Police were called to a complaint at an apartment where a group of men were threatening people with machetes and knives. Three got away, but Eli tracked one suspect into a forest. Eli carefully made his way to a particular tree, nosing around the opposite side where the suspect laid hidden. I gave Eli an order to engage but then I pulled him back dragging him from hidden cover. Fortunately, the handler’s backup officer saw the male reaching for a knife and it looked like he was about to use it. We finally got the suspect under control and arrested him, says Cpl. Trickett relieved they didn’t become victims that night.

The team, along with another backup officer (dog handlers are often accompanied by a police officer to back them up during a search) started tracking the second suspect for hours which took them deep into the wilderness and to the edge of a cliff. Dogs have no depth perception so Eli was in danger of going off the cliff along with this handler. Cpl. Trickett had already fallen several times as they scrambled through the bush, busting up his shin so badly that days later he ended up with a bad infection. If we had gone over, we would have been dead. I really thought we were done that night, recalls Cpl. Trickett.

At nearly 10 years of service and edging on 12-years-old, Eli is nearing retirement.

I haven’t picked the last day yet. I’m struggling with that. He’s been a part of my identity for a very long time. There’s no manual out there to tell us when, says Cpl. Trickett, who has only had one other police dog in his nearly 20-year career as a handler. His last dog Rook, was 9-years-old and still in service when he suddenly passed away in Cpl. Trickett’s arms during a training session.

It was some time before the heart-stricken handler could bring himself to accept another police dog. But sometimes serendipity intervenes in our best laid plans. The day Eli got sent back to the kennels was the day Rook died, says Cpl. Trickett. Eli was a hard dog to handle. But one of the trainers knew he’d be a perfect fit for Cpl. Trickett and tucked him away until the day the corporal was ready to take another dog.

He’s a big, goofy bucket head and still is to this day. I’ve had him in schools, day cares and the only concern I have had is if he flails his big head around and accidently knocks over a toddler.

Eli can distinguish between the sound made by the soles of Cpl. Trickett’s shoes—the thump of boots on the gravel driveway mean work, running shoes mean down time. He can be snoring away on the grass soaking up the sun but if he hears me with my boots on the gravel, he knows its time to work. He can determine the difference instantly, says Cpl. Trickett.

So, what is the secret of PSD Eli’s longevity in the service?

It’s his genetics, body structure, and his ability to relax and turn the switch off, says Cpl. Trickett. He feeds him good foods with supplements. I’ve always kept him a little light in the summer and then a little heavier in the winter, he explains. He doesn’t do a lot of fence jumping and lunging after a ball and he explains that up north they don’t get the hot temperatures we do in other parts of BC. Heat is hard on dogs.

The other thing Cpl. Trickett doesn’t do is give Eli human food. So, it was no surprise that Eli, during an investigation and in the midst of a dynamic entry into a house full of drugs and guns, that he gulped down a food item faster than a speeding bullet. The food was bad and they believe it may have contained illicit drugs. PSD Eli got very sick fighting off death and was off work for a few months. But he came back in full force and ready to work once again as if nothing happened.

Despite Eli’s rocky start out of puppy depot, he has a solid temperament, which also adds to his longevity. He’s not a high-strung dog. When he’s at home he’s able to turn it off. He hangs out with the family, he rests and he recovers and that’s really helped, says Cpl. Trickett.

Whenever Eli’s last day is, he’ll be spending his retirement at home with the family. I have a five-year-old boy and the two of them are best buddies.

Happy trails PSD Eli. The BC RCMP thanks you for your service and wishes you a happy and relaxing retirement full of snuggles and walks with the Trickett family.

Released by:
BC RCMP Communications
Media line: 778-290-2929

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