It has been an eventful month for one of Canterbury’s last canine teams, Agent Josh Yeoman and Lenix, who recently received the Overton Cup for top dog team trainee.
Following a serious incident of family injury this week, two-year-old Lenix managed to apprehend a 35-year-old man, but was hit on the nose with a hammer for his efforts. His master Josh was also punched in the face.
“It was Lenix’s first bite and he did really well under the circumstances,” Josh says. “He was examined by the vet and luckily there are no fractures. He feels a little sorry for himself, but he’s doing well.
Just two weeks earlier, Josh and Lenix had been voted the best trainee dog team of the year, an award no one was surprised to see go to the devoted pair.
Introduced in 1972 and named in honor of Chief Superintendent JW Overton, the Overton Cup is voted on by instructors and support staff at the Dog Training Center for the team that demonstrates great training skill and training. respect the values of the police.
Master Sergeant Chris Best, practice manager at the dog training center, said Josh and Lenix were clear winners.
“Every interaction they had with the team here was positive. Josh respected everyone and was always fully engaged – he was remarkable.
“His parents came for graduation, and it is true that the apple does not fall too far from the tree.”
Josh’s dad is a helicopter pilot, and both parents do a lot of overseas aid work. Josh was born in Cameroon and spent the first five years of his life crossing Africa in Cameroon, Ethiopia and Kenya, where the family has always had German Shepherds as pets and guard dogs.
Josh is also a “skid biter” (someone who enjoys hanging out around helicopters). He says watching his dad train with Special Tactics Group (STG) winching dogs is why he joined the police.
“I had one goal in mind when I joined me: to become a dog handler,” says Josh. “I spent most of my days off at Dog Section – helping out with the training days, being a lure, laying leads, cleaning the kennels and generally just annoying the handlers.”
His persistence paid off. After only two and a half years with the police, Josh landed his dream job as a dog handler.
When they train, Lenix only has eyes for Josh.
“I started with my foster puppy, but he had to go back to the foster program due to health issues. When I got Lenix we had some work to do but we bonded pretty quickly. The difference between dogs was night and day. We graduated in March when Lenix was 20 months old.
“We’re a great team,” says Josh. “There is no conflict – he is happy to work for me and he has a lot of drive.
“It also has a great ability to turn on and off. He loves the house and loves my wife – he’s like a cat with her, kissing up to his legs, but when he sees me in my overalls he knows it’s time for work.
“It’s really reassuring for my family,” says Josh. “They trust him and know he supports me. It’s not always an easy job, but I’m really lucky to have such good support around the house.
When Josh heard the news of the Overton Cup victory, he and Lenix were off to train with SAS – an experience Josh says he always dreamed of.
“I’ve always been fascinated and admired the elite special forces, so working alongside them was a real highlight.
“We were part of the hunter force, buzzing in helicopters and sleeping in the bush at night,” says Josh. “Lenix was not the best sleeping companion – he listened to every sound. But it was great to see him outside of a metropolitan environment.
“He was coiling the students as we patrolled a large open valley and that’s not behavior I’ve seen before. He caught their scent in the wind up to a mile away.
This is the third consecutive year that the Overton Cup has been held in Canterbury, agents Sam Campbell (co-winner with Josh Van Der Kwaakand) and Justin (Judd) Robbins winning in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
“There is a wealth of knowledge among material handlers in Canterbury,” says Josh. “Everyone is really supportive, and they all want the best from dogs so they’re always ready to help.
“Hats off to Sergeant Tim Yates and the boys I trained with every day, Simi Volavola and Michael Lamb. We got our jobs at the same time and trained our dogs together. I wouldn’t have had half the success without them.
“It’s a long way to go to train a dog and we’ve spent over a year together negotiating this scam to achieve what we have done.”