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Name: Elyse Lewis

Age: 30

Job: Police dog handler

City/town: Whangarei

What does your job entail? Training my police dog from a puppy until it was qualified to work as my partner. We help prevent, and fight, crime such as burglaries and other serious offending by using the dog’s abilities to track and chase down those who choose to break the law.

How long have you been doing it? Police officer for 12 years; a dog handler for three years.

What attracted you to this line of work? Apprehending offenders has always been an adrenaline rush. I found the perfect job as a dog handler, as I experience this rush daily. I’ve loved dogs since I was a kid. It was my career goal to become a dog handler. I’m amazed at how intelligent the dogs are. It blows me away how the dogs do what they do. It’s the ultimate feeling catching your first offender with the police dog you have trained.

What training was involved? A lot of physical testing. It is demanding running behind your dog, lifting them over fences, then apprehending the offender. Some do not come quietly! Training the dog skills, and most importantly, learning how to bond with your dog.

What do you love most about your job? It’s my passion. I completely trust in my dog that she has my back and I have hers when times get tough.

And what are the worst bits? Serious incidents at 3am in winter, in bush, in the rain, would be the most undesirable part of my job.

What motivates you in your work? Seeing, hearing, and speaking to victims of crime motivates me to do my best.

What are your career goals? When I can’t keep up with my dog, I want to become a dog section supervisor.

Do you have any key mentors or people who have influenced you? Before this role, I looked up to other handlers. I would go on ride-alongs and watch them work.

Where did you grow up and what was it like? Bethel’s Beach, West Auckland. The beach was my backyard. I’d bush walk, play in the sand dunes, sand board, ride motorbikes and swim. I went to Kamo High School, Whangarei. My upbringing definitely influenced my work as a dog handler.

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