Finland's Kennel Club has honored the country's most exceptional service dogs in various sectors for their outstanding performance and dedication. The 2023 honorees include customs dog Pepi, prison dog Santtu, police dog Piki, military dog Cooper, and border guard dog Jäbä. Each of these dogs has been selected by their respective organizations – the Customs, the Criminal Sanctions Agency, the Police, the Defense Forces, and the Border Guard – for their exemplary service.
These top service dogs of the year will be officially recognized at an award ceremony scheduled for December 16, 2023, at 15:15 during the Dog Fair in Helsinki's Exhibition Centre.
Pepi: The Customs Canine Prodigy
Middleriver's Gundexter, popularly known as "Pepi," is an 8-year-old Labrador Retriever who has excelled in narcotics detection with the Customs' mobile unit in Turku, alongside handler Mika Niemenmaa. Pepi's successful career includes significant drug discoveries in Turku and previously at the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, playing a crucial role in uncovering drug-related crimes.
Santtu: The Vigilant Prison Guard Dog
Brufinn Must Be Mind Trick "Santtu," another 8-year-old Labrador Retriever, serves at Sukeva Prison with handler Antte Rönty. Trained in narcotics, weapons detection, tracking, and object retrieval, Santtu began his service at around two years old. The duo has excelled in various internal and inter-agency competitions and are known for creating a positive atmosphere during work and training sessions.
Piki: The Versatile Police Dog
Arrack's Home Yibbe "Piki," an 8-year-old Belgian Malinois, works at the Southwest Finland Police Department in Turku with senior constable Jouni Karlsson. Piki's training encompasses tracking, person and object search, narcotics detection, and use of force. The team has a long history of success in crime investigation and lifesaving missions.
Cooper: The Dedicated Military Dog
Hardhunters Heavy Dude "Cooper" is a 6-year-old Labrador Retriever serving with the Utin Jääkärirykmentti (Utti Jaeger Regiment) as a specialized explosive detection dog. Trained from a young age in high-risk search operations, IED detection, and tactical operations with special forces, Cooper's relentless work ethic has been pivotal in numerous explosive detection tasks and in developing techniques for homemade explosive detection.
Jäbä: The Skilled Border Patrol Dog
Eviloves Ugo "Jäbä," an 8-year-old German Shepherd, works at the Kainuu Border Guard Station in Kuusamo with chief border guard Asmo Karppinen. Jäbä, who began training as a border dog at seven weeks and started service at around two years old, specializes in tracking, object search, and person detection. Karppinen and Jäbä have successfully completed numerous person and object searches, contributing significantly to the border guard's operations.
Each of these remarkable dogs demonstrates the invaluable role that service animals play in supporting law enforcement and security efforts in Finland. Their dedication and skills not only enhance the safety and security of Finnish society but also exemplify the extraordinary bond between humans and their canine companions.