Tom Goule

Tom Goule attended the dual purpose drug detection dog handler course in 2014 and is now an assisstant trainer at Malpeet K9 Academy After spending ten years in the prison service I was looking for a new challenging and wanted to follow a lifelong dream of working with dogs. After spending hours researching training companies and k9 academy’s I found Malpeet K9 Academy which was local to me so I was lucky. I made contact with Simon and he suggested coming along to Malpeet to have a chat with him and a look around. With my background I decided to go for a drug detection course both passive and proactive which is dual purpose drug detection course. Off I set to Malpeet on day one. “ 9am start not bad” I thought. That was the first and the last. Second day back to 6am start, ready for 7am clean the kennels, walk and groom the dogs. This was the routine for the course, dogs come first then we set off training. On day one we all sat in the barn with Simon and Tony explaining what is going to happen-the “highs and lows” and the “good and bad”. I had loads of feelings at this point from being excited to scared of what was going to happen. Then the dogs all came in one by one. We watched them play with a ball then Simon turned to us and said “Pick a dog but don’t fall in love with it.” We heard that a few times in the first week “Don’t fall in love with your dog.” I was thinking “They are dogs! How can’t you fall in love with them?” Also I was a little worried about how this was going to work out but luckily we all wanted different dogs. This is when I met Bruce-a 13- month-old black lab that had a lot of ball drive and loved to play. By the end of day one I had broken the first rule Simon and Tony had given us. I had fallen in love with him. We spent a few days in the barn getting to know our own dog and tried to get them on scent then it’s time to pack up the van and set off to a busy shopping centre in Cardiff. We were given instructions by Simon and Tony about walking the dogs first so they can go to the toilet then meet at the front of the shopping centre. I was met by Simon at the main entrance of a very crowded shopping centre. Simon told me this before he walked off, Bruce and I were going to walk through the shopping centre and I was to allow the dog to scan people walking past us as one of them would be a carrier with drugs on them. I can’t say what was going through my head but I was so nervous about going through with a dog looking for one person in the crowd!!!! Luckily It went well and it continued to go really well. Bruce loved working and enjoyed every aspect of the training, I on the other hand found
it enjoyable but at times difficult. A fourteen hour day was tough going and although Bruce was loving it, but at times it was really tough to get the ball from him. At the end of the first week Simon announced that we were going to Wind Street in Swansea to train at the entrance of a night club. Honestly at this point I thought he was a little mad! We had only been doing this for a week and we were going to Wind street on a Saturday night? Being local I knew what it was like in Swansea on a Saturday night, I didn’t think this was going to end well for anyone-thousands of drunk people mixed with half a dozen dogs-what could go wrong? When we were there half the people wanted to play with the dogs just as I thought then it got busy with a lot of people wanting see what we were doing or trying to get in the club, but the night was a massive success and all the handlers and dogs enjoyed that night. End of week one I had the first day off and I spent most of it sleeping or flat out on the sofa not doing much. The second week started, we went straight back into routine-off to another training venue, more people to scan, kennels to clean, dogs to walk and mess to clean up. At the time it seemed very boring with all the cleaning and grooming but now having worked my dog for some time I can see the importance of having things clean and tidy, the dog always looking its best but during a cold wet February in the hills of South Wales it didn’t seem all that fun or important. The final assessment came at the end of week two and I was feeling confident. As I went to the kennels to take Bruce out to walk around the field with him, it dawned on me that the last sixteen days of training had been amazing. Now this was reality, pass-on to find work as a passive drug detection handler; fail-well, I don’t know what I would have done. It was a great day when we passed the assessment. Bruce was amazing and he filled me with confidence on the day and ever since. Next on to the proactive sixteen day course I thought I’ve done passive, this would be easy. How wrong was I! This time Bruce had to be off the lead and I didn’t have him under control which was a little nerve racking considering he is a very strong-willed dog. A few times it was tough going with Bruce wanting to go somewhere else instead of searching but again it was a massive success. Bruce loved working off-lead and took to it like a natural. Simon and I were both very pleased with his progress and mine. We went to
a number of different training locations from ports, offices, truck yards and many others. The daily routine of cleaning the kennels and training outside of the academy really helped me feel like we had been working together for years. We passed the pro-active assessment. Bruce and I are now a dual purpose drug detection team.