Leonard Little's Story
Leonard was an officer with Hertfordshire Police when he applied for a Fellowship in 1987 to investigate the training and use of drug search dogs.
For two months, Leonard studied with the German Customs Service headed by Herr Rudi Schimscha, who was at the time the world’s leading trainer of drug dogs. He also spent time with three of the nine West German state police forces: Bavaria, Rhineland Pfalz and Hessen.
The German way of training police drugs dogs was fundamentally different to that of the UK. The German dogs went through three months of training in comparison to the 10 weeks allotted to the British dogs, and a lot more time was spent stimulating a drive instinct in the dogs during the early stages of training.
Leonard was awarded an instructors’ qualification by the German Customs, and as a result, was also put through an accelerated instruction course in the UK on his return – several years earlier than he expected. His force also brought two Labradors for him to personally train as drugs dogs.
“For me, the Fellowship was career-changing”
While at the regional training school in Preston, Leonard was encouraged by the Chief Instructor to use the photographic department to create a compilation of footage he’d taken in Germany. Leonard was invited to share the resulting film presentation as the guest specialist speaker at the National Police Dog Trials, attended by members of each of the 43 UK police forces. As a result he was inundated with requests to visit local forces and repeat his presentation.
The Customs Service also requested a meeting, as did the Standing Committee on the Training and Use of Police Dogs, who subsequently adapted their training manual to reflect the methods that Leonard had witnessed on his Fellowship.
In 1990, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, Leonard was invited back by the German Customs to act as a judge in their national dog trials. This led to an exchange programme, with groups from the UK and Germany travelling to the other’s country, staying in colleagues’ homes and spending time learning new and different training techniques. The exchanges lasted for 5 years and led to lasting friendships.
Now retired, Leonard is still part of the dog training world, and he will soon be helping his old colleagues train up six new dogs.