RCMP Cst. Brent Bates is saying goodbye to his canine partner after spending a quarter of his 27-year career alongside police service dog Baylee. Baylee passed away in September leaving a legacy of smiles and successful cases.
Born in November 2009, Baylee excelled in puppy training at the RCMP's police dog training facility in Innisfail, Alta., and honed her skills before heading to Nova Scotia and joining Bates, who needed a new canine partner.
By late July 2011, Baylee completed training with the help of Bates and graduated as the RCMP's 880th police service dog.
On the job, Baylee is remembered for her keen instinct and never-ending drive. She had a knack for knowing when a job involved pursuing a suspect or tracking down a missing person.
She was so well rounded," says Bates. "
She would be able to apprehend people while not being excessive but on the other side, we'd go to schools and do public demonstrations and she had a bubbly personality."
Bates remembers a call where he and Baylee responded to reports of car break-ins. Baylee tracked down the suspect and Bates suddenly noticed a change in her behaviour as she turned a corner. When he caught up, Baylee was licking the suspect's face — not a typical reaction for a police dog with a suspect.
Bates realized that the young man had an intellectual disability and Baylee, too, had recognized it right away. Nevertheless, that same night Baylee's reaction was, appropriately, the opposite when tracking down a domestic assault suspect.
She seemed to know the differences in people," Bates says.
On top of the regular calls, Baylee attended high-profile protests and participated in explosive detections and VIP sweeps for dignitaries and members of the Royal Family.
When a team of RCMP officers was searching for the suspect after the 2014 Moncton police shootings, Baylee led the way through the dark. Officers were concerned the suspect may see them first and have an advantage until Baylee, who sensed what the officers were unable to see, started barking loudly. The team then heard the suspect yelling that he was surrendering.
In 2018, after seven years on duty and attending more than 3,100 calls and travelling 424 kilometres on 385 tracks, Baylee was set for retirement at age nine — two years longer than the average police dog.
Around the same time, Bates took a position at the RCMP's Depot training academy in Regina, Sask., and Baylee followed as a family pet.
Despite daily four-kilometre walks, Baylee still had lots of energy and wanted to work.
When she retired, it was a semi-retirement," says Bates. "
Once every two weeks or so I'd bring her in and give a presentation to the cadets about the dog program."
The duo would show off their skills, assist in searches during on-call scenarios and participate in uniform runs with cadets.
If cadets dropped batons on their runs, Baylee was always quick to find them buried in the sand or snow uncovering seven lost batons in her two years at Depot.
Baylee was also a friend to many cadets who had to leave behind furry friends to attend Depot. She loved to visit with them always wagging her tail and enjoying some snuggles.
She was a family pet when she was off duty," says Bates. "
She knew she wasn't at work anymore and would sit on the couch and watch hockey with me."
After a diagnosis of chronic kidney failure, Baylee passed peacefully on September 3, 2020, leaving many with heavy hearts, but fond memories. She would have turned 11 on November 1.