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The Last Dog on the Island Tasmania’s Border Protection Heroine

The author has written a journal type story of his work in Tasmania with his dog Elise. Steve had become rather jaded after shift work at Melbourne Airport as a Customs officer, and applied for a job as a Ranger, but was overlooked. Now there was a vacancy for a dog handler in Tasmania, and it seemed the only way out for Steve. At age thirty plus, he had to go back to the dog training centre for retraining as a Dog Handler. It was a tough course, and would involve a great deal of physical exercise and animation to encourage the dog.

 Dog training is a slow process and dogs are flawed in many ways as are humans. Elise, the Labrador that works with Steve in Tasmania, is afraid or nervous around children. The puppy chosen for training is taught from a few months old, to play hunting games, to sniff out a favourite toy from under a pot, and is well praised. The handler gives the dog plenty of play time as the dog needs to be imprinted with the odours it needs to find, which is done by using hand towels with the target smell, and is once again rewarded when it finds that dummy.

 After intensive training, Steve accepted the role in Tasmania as the only dog handler working with Customs, the Police and at the Prison.  He and Elise had to be as flexible in their role as possible as they could be searching a farm for drugs one day, in prison checking the prisoners and visitors the next, or boarding a cargo ship another day. This often meant moving from one end of the Island to the other, and staying in various forms of accommodation.

 One of the many times that Elise came into her own was at a property the Police had searched but failed to find any drugs. The old fellow who lived there was crafty and assured Police they were wasting their time. Steve was worried that Elise might come into contact with a wood heater in the kitchen, but she headed straight for the cupboard and scrabbled at its base. She then went behind the heater and pawed the wood heap, neatly stacked there. In thirty seconds, Elise had uncovered zip lock bags of cannabis in a false base of the cupboard, and under the wood pile.

 There were many successful raids carried out by Steve and Elise. They managed to assist with a drug discovery from a Mafia group sent in a shipping container full of tins of tomatoes. The team travelled the length and breadth of Tasmania, assisting where they could. There is a Glossary of terms, which explain words such as “muttluks” which are boots for dogs. It also lists the abbreviations of organizations, and drug abbreviations.

  The good news to come from this book is to know that the retired dogs are not put down, but live, usually with their handler, to enjoy a happy retirement.

AuthorSteve Kelleher
PublisherNew Holland Publishers
DistributorNew Holland Publishers
ReleasedMarch 2017