The dogs that detect drugs, explosives and mobile phones at NSW prisons

Dogs have the life, don’t they.

Sleep most of the day, go for a bit of a walk and eat like a king.

That’s how it seems sometimes. But appearances can be deceiving.

When we look at dogs, sometimes we sense that they’d rather be pulling a sled than lying down for half the day.

We reckon a lot of dogs are bored. We reckon they want to work.

If you’ve read Call of the Wild, you’d know what we mean. A working dog is a dog that feels fully alive.

As such, our ears pricked up when we heard Corrective Services NSW had eight new dogs that they’re ready to put to work.

One of these dogs will be based in the Hunter Region.

They won’t be pulling sleds like the famous dog Buck in Call of the Wild.

They’ll be sniffing out drugs and other contraband in the state’s prisons.

This crop of drug-detection dogs and their human handlers, which are part of the K9 unit, graduated after a 16-week course.

K9 training manager Sharon Charman said they would conduct regular searches to “help fight drugs and other contraband getting into correctional centres”.

“This provides and promotes a safer environment for staff, inmates and visitors.”

Some of the dogs are trained to find drugs, while others are trained to detect phones and explosives.

We imagine the prisoners aren’t too pleased about dogs sniffing through their belongings.

Guess that’s one of the prices you pay when you’re sent to the big house.

Exit Stage Left

Georgia Hall (right) had to leave the stage, after falling ill in the opera Don Giovanni.

Georgia Hall (right) had to leave the stage, after falling ill in the opera Don Giovanni.

Herald theatre critic Ken Longworth was in the audience on Wednesday for the opening night of the opera Don Giovanni at Lake Macquarie Performing Arts Centre.

Actresses Georgia Hall and Pamela Andrews are sharing the role of the character, Donna Anna. 

The opera is scheduled for eight shows, with the actresses slated for four shows each.

But the plan went awry on Wednesday. Georgia started the show in full costume.

But after the first act, Ken noticed Donna Anna seemed to be a bit taller.

He wasn’t seeing things. Opera Hunter’s Mercia Buck confirmed to Ken at the interval that Georgia was ill and couldn't continue. Luckily, Pamela was in the audience.

She was whisked backstage, where she quickly got into costume and completed the show.

Ken was mightily impressed with the fluid transition.

As they say, the show must go on.

Milk Memories

We wrote yesterday about the days of milkmen and the idea that milk tasted a lot better then than it does now.

Col from Edgeworth emailed us these thoughts: “I remember in my primary school years at Waratah between 1954 and 1960, when we used to get 1/3 pints of milk delivered in crates – one for each student.”

Col pointed out that the milk wasn’t A2, almond or goat’s milk. It was the real thing.

“The milk tasted so good to me, even better when we used to get those flavoured chocolate or strawberry straws to drink through. The milk always had cream sitting in the top, as you took off the cap. Definitely better milk than today's offering.”

Pommy Town

Our stories about Tooheys Old and Tooheys Hunter Old Ale continue to spark memories among readers.

Tuncurry’s Greg Fall recalled a Tooheys Old story from the late 1950s.

“We used to spend a lot of Saturdays and Sundays at our pop's place in Pommy Town, Mayfield,” Greg said.

“Every so often on a Sunday, Pop would have a keg of Tooheys Old set up in the garage and friends and son-in-laws would drink and play euchre all day.

“They used to drive a large nail through the wooden bung on the keg, then withdraw it a little to let air in so the beer would flow.

“No one left until the beer was gone! Of course kids were excluded, but we used to sneak a peak before being told sort of politely where to go.               

“I will never forget those days when families would get together on a weekend (no TV then). All the cousins had great fun, we were all close – just like Mum and her brothers and sisters.”