It is, according to those who know best, an excess of “spirit” that sets a police dog apart from the rest of the pack.
They are the dogs that, put frankly, could be seen as a bit naughty, hard to control or slightly too energetic.
Across Northamptonshire, there is clearly an abundance of canine spirit.
Over the last 12 months, almost 300 criminals have been arrested, thanks to the actions of North amptonshire Police’s dogs.
The force’s dog unit, which boasts 12 general purpose German shepherds, seven drugs dogs and one specialist recovery dog, is now called to more than 3,000 incidents in Northamptonshire a year, an average of around eight a day.
The actions of the dogs still leave even the most experienced dog handlers astonished.
Pc Ian McDonald tells a story of his dog, Roddy, tracking a criminal after they had followed a vehicle along Weedon Road, in St James, Northampton.
After the arrest of one man, the dog, his work seemingly done, was let off his lead to meet some of the police officers who had arrived at the scene. Instead Roddy bolted toward a nearby fence, finding the man’s accomplice, who was cowering behind it.
Pc McDonald speaks of another incident when a dog belligerently stood next to a discarded KFC box of chicken bones.
After initially telling the dog off for trying to get a sneaky snack while on duty, Pc McDonald ended up examining the box and finding a stash of drugs hidden underneath the chicken carcass.
Pc Matt Baker recalls one visit to the scene of a burglary in Northampton when his dog, Todd, had sniffed out, tracked and located a burglar hiding in a nearby bush before he had even managed to get to the front door of the house and without giving his dog a single command.
Sgt Keith Womble said: “Everything we do comes back to obedience and agility.
“We have dogs that maybe have too much spirit in them. But because of that agility and obedience, we harness that spirit. You can’t teach every dog to be a police dog.
“A lot of people will ring us up and say I have a dog that is disruptive, I can’t control it, and for us that dog is of interest.”
The force has taken dogs from neighbouring forces, from rescue centres and from Battersea Dogs’ Home. Four recent recruits came from Hungary, while another was picked up from a farmer.
One of the force’s trainers, Pc Pete Gray said: “These are very special dogs. One minute we ask them to search for a missing child and to just sit with them barking. The next minute they are tracking a burglar, taking them down and biting them.”
To keep up to date with the dog section follow the unit’s exploits on Twitter at @NorthantPolDogs
For one member of the dog unit the arrival of the force’s new recruit has had more of an impact on his life than he had bargained for. German shepherd, Kelly, now aged 11 weeks, joined the force last month, aged only eight weeks.
Kelly’s arrival has seen dog trainer Pc Pete Gray, who has taken yje dog home to live with him, forced from his bedroom to sleep on a camp bed in his kitchen while it acclimatises to a new life.
Although he says Kelly has already started some basic training, Pc Gray says it is still spending most of its time having fun and learning to socialise with people and other officers in the force.
The Brixworth-born pup differs from most of the other dogs in the force as it joined the force while still so young.
Pc Gray said the move will help the unit’s resilience as they will, once Kelly is fully trained, have a dog who is ready to hit the streets.
He said: “We usually get them older and they will start their training straight away. The idea is she will be trained and ready to go when she is about a year old.
“Getting them as a puppy we know exactly how they have been brought up, how they have been treated and socailised and we will be looking at the whole package and having a well-rounded dog.”