The Moose Jaw Police Service (MJPS) is mourning the loss of their first-ever Accredited Facility Dog, Kane, who passed away earlier this month after losing his battle with cancer.
Kane worked side-by-side with former Victim Services Unit Coordinator Donna Blondeau for six years.
“I’m feeling a little bit lost and am missing him,” says Blondeau. “He was wonderful at what he did work-wise and a wonderful companion and partner. I’m going to miss him for the rest of my life. He was an amazing dog, was extremely well-trained, and everybody who met him loved him. It’s an emotional time.”
Kane, who is a yellow Labrador/Retriever, was born in San Rafael, Calif., and then was recruited to take part in the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS) in Burnaby, B.C. at only nine weeks old. PADS supports people with disabilities and community care providers by partnering them with a certified assistance dog.
He would spend his first two and half years undergoing training to become a certified assistance dog.
While Kane was training at PADS, Blondeau was busy bringing the Victim Services Unit to not only the MJPS but to the province. The unit aims to assist those in the aftermath of a tragedy and PADS added the help of a dog's companionship.
Once the approval was given for the unit, Blondeau began the rigorous application and interview process to be assigned an assistance dog.
“From what they garner from all of that, they determine what dog would be most suitable. This doesn’t happen overnight; they try to find a dog with a similar personality. In our case, I wasn’t huge into exercise and was pretty laid back. They were trying to find a dog that wasn’t high energy and try to pair us. In our case, they were extremely successful. I always laugh and say that we both like to eat, sleep, and not do a lot of exercise. That was us in a nutshell,” adds Blondeau.
In 2015, Kane was assigned to Blondeau, which made him Saskatchewan’s and the MJPS’s first-ever Accredited Facility Dog and their forever bond began.
Though Kane was friendly and liked to play with other dogs, when he was on duty, he knew what his role was, which was to assist victims of crime and tragedy.
“Kane was basically there for support. He gravitated to people that were upset, anxious, or scared, that was part of Kane’s personality. He would be there very quietly, maybe put his head on their lap, sit or lay beside them so they could pet or hug him if they wanted to, or cry. He knew without any command from me to do that, that’s the people that he gravitated to. That was anyone; police officers, civilians, or children.”
Kane also provided support in court for victims that were Crown witnesses and had to testify.
Blondeau and Kane worked together for six years in the unit and her fondest memory was when she witnessed his first interview with a victim.
“I had the largest lump in my throat and my mouth was open because I wasn’t in the room and wasn’t present during interviews or court assistance, I didn’t have to be because he knew what to do.”
Other memories that Blondeau will always cherish are when they would meet people and Kane’s ability to know whom to focus his time on.
“It didn't matter who they were, whether it was our Chief of Police, a police officer, or one of our civilian staff, it didn’t matter, Kane would do what he did. People were genuinely affected by it. They would spend that time with him and get down on the floor with him, or he would put his head on their lap. Those were the times that I remember that I felt like this is important and we’re doing the right thing.”
Kane will always be remembered for his calm demeanour and caring personality, which according to Blondeau people said on several occasions.
During his time with the MJPS, Kane also had a children’s book written about him called “Kane’s Tale”, which Blondeau says was an effort to get kids more comfortable with the police.
“It was something that they could take, share with their parents, and understand that if they ever had to come to the Police Service Kane may be there to help them.”
Thousands of copies of the book were distributed to every elementary school within Moose Jaw free of charge.
Besides the children’s book, Kane had a series of his own trading cards that were distributed to children around the city, along with his own line of “Kane’s Stuffies”.
“Those were for children that he met. All of it was a keep's sake and a reminder of Kane and something they could hold onto. They were very popular.”
Over his career at the MJPS Kane made appearances at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, was a flag bearer for the Invictus Game in 2016, and was in attendance at all police proceedings.
After his retirement from the MJPS on August 31, 2021, Blondeau was given the option to adopt Kane and she jumped at the opportunity to do so.
“There was no question in my mind that he was going to be with me, we had been together since 2015 and we retired on his birthday in 2021. I took him in a heartbeat.”
Unfortunately, for Kane, he would later lose his fight with cancer and passed away on July 10, 2023, at the age of 10, after almost two years retired from the Moose Jaw Police Service.
“We worked very hard and worked very well together. He will be missed”