Luke, a neighborhood stray, becomes a Specialized Police Service Dog

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador – At first glance PDS Luke does not look like the typical police service dog you would expect. Don’t let his retriever good looks fool you though. Luke is a highly trained RCMP Narcotic Detection Dog who has sniffed out over five million dollars in drugs and cash during his career.

Luke is a Labrador retriever cross and has a wags to riches kind of story. He was found wandering around a St. John’s neighborhood, apprehended by animal services and brought to a local humane shelter. No one came to claim ownership of Luke and his days at the shelter were numbered as he was not a prime candidate for adoption. Call it fate or luck that during the same time, Sgt. Don Bill was scouting for a potential candidate for the specialized RCMP Police Dog Service. He went for a visit to the shelter where he met Luke and immediately saw a potential in the dog because of his high drive, strong work ethic and his natural instincts to retrieve and search.

PDS Luke was estimated to be born around December 1, 2007. He first entered the Narcotic Detection Dog Training course in March 2009 at Innisfail, Alberta. Luke’s instincts as a specialized narcotics detection dog were so good that he completed the eleven week training program in just three weeks, and began his RCMP Police Dog Service with his first handler Sgt. Don Bill.


In December 2012, PDS Luke returned to Innisfail and began training with Cpl. Mike Pilgrim. Luke is Cpl. Pilgrims’s first canine partner and they have developed a very trusting bond. Good communication is vital in the Police Dog Service and Luke’s handler has had to learn to interpret his canine partner’s actions. The dog’s actions include body gestures or movements like tail, ears and eyes. Cpl. Mike Pilgrim joined the RCMP in 2000 and became a police dog handler in 2012. As Cpl. Pilgrim explains, searching is a natural instinct in dogs.

“Dogs do not need to be taught to search if they have any kind of prey drive or retrieve drive,” says Cpl. Pilgrim. “What must be taught is to search for specific odors, ignoring others in a controlled and structured fashion.”

Luke lives happily with his handler Cpl. Pilgrim and has one furry sibling, another dog. He also enjoys the company of other dogs and pets, including cats. In his time off from the job Luke enjoys walks and playing fetch. Luke’s favorite snack is “Begging Strips”.

Luke is a valuable member of our Police Dog Service Team and has built a successful partnership with his handler Cpl. Mike Pilgrim. PDS Luke is a reminder to us that what may seem like the end could just be the beginning of something remarkable. Keep on sniffing in the fight against illegal narcotics Luke.


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