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Dog Handler PC 696 Greg Robbie and his police dog (PD) Riggs hang up their lead and boots as they retire from Leicestershire Police this month.
Growing up in Scotland, PC Robbie always knew he wanted to work with dogs and served as a police dog handler with the RAF as a fresh-faced 19-year-old for seven years before joining Leicestershire Police in January 1997.
After working as a General Duties Officer (GDO), the equivalent of today’s response, PC Robbie qualified as an Authorised Firearms Officer, until the calling back to the Dogs came when a position within the Dog Section at Leicestershire Police arose in January 2001.
PC Robbie started his initial General-Purpose Dog Handlers course with his first four-legged partner, German Shepherd Ozzie where they both passed and the rest is history!
During his career Greg has handled eight dogs (six general purpose dogs and two drugs, cash and firearms). The eight dogs have captured (and on some occasions literally left their mark on) hundreds of criminals. They have found countless missing people and evidential property that has led to numerous convictions.
Greg recalls one job that PD Grace attended when she tracked through the streets from the scene of a burglary in a rural Nottinghamshire village at 5am. After tracking for around 15-minutes, Grace suddenly trotted into a very well-manicured front garden and duly lay down on what looked like the owner’s prize flower bed that was in full bloom.
Greg in his RAF days.
When Greg checked where she was lying, he saw that Grace was lying next to a discarded pop bottle that had been thrown into the flowers and was completely out of sight from the road. The bottle was recovered and tested for DNA – amazingly the DNA profile came back to a prolific burglar from Nottingham who was currently wanted by police. “The phrase ‘trust your dog’ is a very true and well used saying amongst Dog Handlers. They are truly amazing members of our police family,” says Greg.
Greg and his dogs have also scooped multiple awards including the Penn Lloyd Trophy in 2008 with PD Denny and has been lucky enough to be nominated and win The John Chowanski Memorial Bowl three years in a row (2019 with PD Grace and twice with PD Riggs in 2020 and 2021). He has also made an appearance on the television series, Body Cam Cops with PD Riggs while working for EMOpSS (East Midlands Operational Support Services) in Nottinghamshire.
“I’m blessed to do what I do. I’ve had eight outstanding dogs and every single one has been different but amazing in their own way,” said Greg.
Greg’s current and final dog Riggs has been a police dog for six and a half years, during which he has captured countless criminals, found numerous vulnerable missing people and recovered stolen property.
From the very start as a fluffy four-month old pup, PD Riggs was special. One of his first jobs was to track and find three-armed robbery suspects who had just carried out an aggravated burglary at a pub, and who were also wanted for a string of similar offences. Riggs tracked from the pub across fields and eventually went into deep undergrowth where he found the three suspects, still armed.
One started to fight with Riggs but didn’t win; even at 18 months old Riggs knew the game and did what was needed by biting and detaining one of the suspects, who persuaded the other two to give up. All three were subsequently jailed for a total of 45 years for their part in numerous aggravated burglaries at public houses within Nottinghamshire.
Riggs has had countless “Great Dog Jobs” and will be remembered fondly with pride as both Greg and Riggs move onto the next chapter of their lives. As the saying goes, ‘all good things must come to an end’, and it is now time to hang up the lead and let Riggs put his paws up and enjoy long walks across the Scottish countryside, where they plan on retiring.
Greg said: “The relationship between a police dog handler and their dog is very special and the bond is hard to explain unless you have experienced it. It is more than just a job, it’s a partnership that lasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
PC 696 Greg Robbie and his police dog (PD) Riggs.
“Blood, sweat and tears has gone into the job and it can be an emotional rollercoaster but it’s been everything I’ve dreamt of and more.
“The dogs are the one constant at work – they will never let you down. Sadly, the people and situations we sometimes deal with can come with a lot of negatives, but the dogs balance this and for me make the job more positive.
“Over the years I have always lost a bit of me when my dogs have retired or when the time comes to say goodbye; it’s like a little bit of me goes with each one. Every dog you have had will always have a special place in your heart.”
“The commitment and the support from my wife and children has always been amazing. The dogs are in and out of your life and this is especially hard when they pass away. Although police dogs, they are still a valued part of the family. There is no doubt that I could not have done all that I have done and achieved during my career on the Dog Section without the support of my wife Vickie and my children Leah and Matilda.
“If I was to tell you my eldest daughter’s first cuddly toy was a German Shepheard called ‘Ozzie’ named after my first police dog. That for me sums up how much these dogs mean to the families, as well as the handlers they work with.
“I want to again take a moment to pay homage for my wife Vickie, who is a talented and hardworking Detective Constable herself and who will be retiring from the police on the same day as me after a long and successful career.
“She has made sacrifices for myself and the job on more occasions than I care to remember. I know it’s not been easy to say the least, but again thank you for all the support and commitment over the years.
“I want to thank everyone I’ve worked with over the years for your support and friendship. Especially the handlers and of course dogs, both past and present that I have been proud and lucky enough to have served with.”
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