PDS Caesar

Caesar and his human partner, Constable Randy Goss, lived their unit’s motto: “Life’s Short – Bite Hard”. He was killed in the line of duty in 1998.
Caesar and Randy Goss, photo courtesy Tom Braid, Edmonton Sun

Caesar and Randy Goss, photo courtesy Tom Braid, Edmonton Sun

At the time of his death, the 85 pound Rottweiler was a 5 year veteran of the Edmonton Alberta Police Service Dog Unit.   As Tom Braid, the photographer who had participated in numerous charity events  with the Unit, said afterwards,  ”People don’t quite get it.  This was not only a dog, this was an actual Police member; his title was Police Service Dog (PSD). Other cops on the street trust these dogs with their very own lives without ever giving it a second thought.  There are many calls that police members make where they will not proceed without a dogman backing them up.”

Caesar was shot while attempting to help police members subdue a distraught, apparently suicidal young man armed with a shotgun on the grounds of Bishop Savaryn Catholic Elementary School.

Fortunately, although it had been a planned outdoor fun day at school, most of the students had gone back inside for lunch because of hot weather. A man pointing a shotgun was spotted wandering around the perimeter of the sports field that was surrounded by three separate schools. The man refused repeated police requests to drop his firearm and instead fired shots into the air. Police services turned to Caesar for help.

The Rottweiler almost managed to subdue him, running at him full tilt while the gunman had his back turned. With Constable Goss in close pursuit, a split second before the dog was about to jump on the man’s back, he turned and fired a shot, hitting Caesar point blank. Damage to the dog was severe and fatal. The gunman was hit once by police fire and taken to hospital where he was charged. Constable Tom Stevens picked up Caesar’s lifeless body in his arms and got him to a nearby veterinarian clinic, but he could not be saved.

Later Constable Stevens said: “That whole shooting was a comedy of errors. Caesar would have had him if the shooter hadn’t turned around point blank. Before that incident we hadn’t trained for a situation where an armed guy is walking around, threatening a whole neighbourhood. It was a recipe for disaster and could have ended up being far worse; it was surreal. As tragic as it was to loose Caesar, he was the defining factor in bringing that incident to a close.  We were so proud of him.  After that, our unit changed its entire psyche. It hadn’t been that long since the school shooting at Columbine, and we realized that we had to progress ourselves quickly to be ready in cases where rapid deployment might be necessary. One of the outcomes was that we changed our weaponry, which now enables us to shoot from long distances.”

After Caesar’s death, Randy Goss was devastated.  He and Caesar had enjoyed a strong bond and had gone through a lot together. When I interviewed him in 2005, Constable Goss told me that a few weeks after the incident he was assigned another dog, a German Shepherd.

“When I first got him I resented him for quite a while. But we ended up working together for years.  He’s older now and retired.  He lives at home with us, he’s part of my family. These dogs don’t retire easily, they’re so used to high speed action. To go from that to lying around the house is hard for them. He’s a good dog.  But Caesar’s death was hard on all my family, me especially. As a handler you go through so much together, watching them develop.”

Usually puppies are placed in their handlers’ homes at an early age, well before the start of training. They become part of the family. Randy had received Caesar when he was 10 weeks old. The department had posted three new puppies who showed potential.  Two were German Shepherds and the third was a Rottweiler. “I secretly wanted the Rotty and was lucky to be assigned to him.” He’d grown up with mixed breed spaniels and Cocker Spaniels, so a Rottweiler was a big change. At first Randy took a lot of heat from other handlers who favoured the German Shepherd breed which is well known for its stability for police service. “There was a lot of skepticism at first, but this Rottweiler won them over.” Randy went on to describe how he cringes inside when he hears the bad press about Rottweilers. “As with any large, dog, you have to be committed to lots of time and positive attention.”

The two were together all day, every day. When handler and dog spend so much time together and rely on each other in dangerous and risky work situations, an overwhelming bond develops. This bond is critical to success in the field and also in the required finding of handler expertise during criminal trials.

Randy began training with Caesar in September 1993 and they were on the street as a team early in 1994. There had been less than normal snow build up that winter, and the exposed grassy patches were good for teaching Caesar his tracking lessons. Caesar won all his tracking titles and got his PDX which involves finding his target from a 3 ½ hour old track.

“These dogs are loyal, dedicated, and hard working. Caesar loved his work and he knew the job so well. I was in awe of his capacity, watched him develop from a rookie to a veteran. The Canine Unit is often called out on high priority situations. Caesar especially enjoyed it when the siren and the overhead lights were going; you could see him anticipating the tracking and the pursuit. He enjoyed the hunt.

We train a lot of handler-protection scenarios, but until you actually get into a real action situation you can’t really predict a dog’s reaction. In one incident we were called to a robbery taking place in a downtown Edmonton drug store. On arrival I noticed a man walking quickly away from the direction of the store, wearing a balaclava. On instinct I stopped my vehicle, got out, and asked the man to stop. I ended up in a foot chase and then on the ground fighting. He drew a knife on me and we got into a serious fight. I couldn’t get control of him; I wasn’t losing, but I wasn’t winning either. I couldn’t see what I was doing but I managed to hit the van door’s remote button on my belt. The next think I knew the guy was yanked off the top of me by a very angry dog. I’d never seen Caesar so angry. His anger said so much. It meant a lot to me, it was like he was saying, ‘don’t you ever mess with my dad’. I was flattered.”

While the nature of their work requires police dogs to be aggressive if necessary, they also have to be well socialized. Graduate Police Service Dogs are valuable members of Police Departments and must conduct themselves well among the public they serve. To promote socialization for the dog and community awareness for the public, all dogs are expected to participate in public relations programs such as visiting schools, hospitals and community groups. Caesar and Goss were well known for their regular visits to Edmonton schools where Goss billed Caesar as the only counting dog on the force. Goss taught Caesar that the question ‘what’s one plus one?’ was a command to bark twice. If a child asked for a number for which Goss had a command, Caesar would bark until Goss gave a subtle command to stop at the right number. “We’d go into a school and Caesar would have a million kids hanging all over him.”

Off duty, Caesar was a docile, friendly pet who lived with Randy’s family and would lick you silly if you let him. At work the Rottweiler was all business.

Constable Goss: “People don’t get sometimes what a good dog has to offer. Caesar had a wonderful balance of disposition, the way he could balance between work and play. I really admired that about him.”

4 Responses to “PDS Caesar”

  • Britt McDurmon says:

    Caesar is one of my heroes. I wish he had not died, but I’m sure he felt like I feel, that we must protect those who cant protect themselves, even if it costs us our lives. I will remember Caesar, and he will be waiting at the Rainbow Bridge for you Randy!

  • The information above seems to be correct and interesting ,thanks for sharing the valuble information. Keep psting good work.

  • Linda says:

    I just watched your story on TV. I cried my eyes out with pride for Randy and Ceasar..and I thought about all the canines and officers alive and deceased that gave/give the ulimate sacrafice, to rid our streets of all its vileness. I just hope everyone realizes we need to help those who help us. God Bless

  • BRIANNA says:

    when i first saw this on the show animal miracles i was heart broken… caesar was a great dog and loving companion i think i cried for about a good half an hour becuz i lost my best friend a 4 yr old cane corso mix tht attacked a robber tht had broken into my home when i was sleeping as soon as the guy heard rosco charging dwn the stairs he ran around the house about 3 times and when i reached the top of the stairs a shot was fired and rosco was dwn my neighbor who was a cop came running over as soon as he heard it and checked on me but i was holding rosco in my arms blood everywhere jim hurried up and put me and rosco into the squat car and drove us to the vet where they said tht my rosco wont make it through the night i was heart broken and im 15 now it happened 2 yrs ago where it was 10 pm and my mom was working we had 5 dogs at the time but they were in my room rosco slept where he pleased my boyfriend came as soon as he could to confort me becuz he was a gift for my 13 birthday becuz tyler couldnt keep him so i took him and we were all shocked i think i had the whole street at the vets office they all got there chance to see roscos lifeless body in the table he was a great dog and everyone will nvr forget him and i will remember it clearly the night he risked his life for mine i no have a new puppy from tyler even tho we r not together no more we r bestfriends his friends cane corso had puppies and i just got a solid blk one named simba and he is soo gorgous ears cropped and tail docked but no other dog will ever be like my ROSCO! R.I.P MY FOREVER FRIEND WE WILL MEET AGAIN SOON I MISS U DEARLY.p.s tyler said u were a great dog and nvr will b forgotten and he loves u soo much!

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