There's a new face at the CBSA North Portal border crossing. However, he's got a bit more fur and a much better nose than the rest of the dedicated officers on staff there.
His name is Chase, and he's new but enthusiastic about his job. This is a good place to mention that he is a dog, a black lab to be precise. The energetic canine has the important role of detecting firearms and drugs, including heroin, cocaine, meth, ecstasy, opium, marijuana and hash, among the many vehicles that cross the line everyday.
"Right now we're still in the learning phase, both him and I. He is only 10 months old, he's still a puppy, he's still growing into his legs, he's still growing into himself. I"m really excited to see where he gets to once he is a little more experienced and so am I." said his handler, Sherese Tardif-Cress.
She's been a border officer for 9 and change years, and chose to return to the CBSA's college in Quebec for this new role.
"There was a selection process that we went through, and then the program also has a two day evaluation where me and other people who are up for the position go, so we can be evaluated in how we work with the dogs. Then from there, I was successful in the two day and the selection process."
Chase's history is a bit of a mystery to his handler. The two met at their training center, and the rest of the details are cloudy, as the college often pulls from a variety of sources for their dogs, such as breeders, humane societies and SPCAs.
His name, however, is a different story.
"When it came apparent that he was going to be the dog coming home with me from training, I sent an email out to the officers in Saskatchewan and asked them for their suggestions. They're the ones that picked the name 'Chase'."
The significance?..."He's 'Chasing' after guns and drugs, and it worked kind of in English and French, being that we're a bilingual agency," Tardif-Cress explained.
"We have a lot of fun at work. My job everyday is getting to work and play with the dog, but on the other side of that, I think it's really important to say that we understand the job that we have. We are protecting Canada from guns and narcotics coming into our country, and protecting our Saskatchewan communities."
Chase has already pulled his weight at North Portal in his month's time there so far, as he has been instrumental in several noteworthy firearms seizures.
The average tour of duty for a CBSA detector dog is 8-10 years, so the pair will have plenty of time to bond, as well as stop quite a few firearms and drugs from making their way across the border.
"Once he retires, I'll get first dibs on adopting him, and I can't imagine he would go anywhere else but with me," added Tardif-Cress with a smile.
The CBSA has used canines at crossings across Canada since 1978, and so Chase comes on board at the 40th anniversary of the program.