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What's in a name? Turns out, quite a lot


Today, the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) welcomed the Mawji Family, along with Edmonton Oilers Captain Connor McDavid, and his girlfriend, Lauren Kyle, to announce 'Sammy' as the name of Canine Unit's newest recruit.

"We are honored," said Ashif Mawji, Chair of the Edmonton Police Foundation (EPF). "To jointly participate in the naming of the EPS' newest Prospective Police Service Dog (PPSD) is an exciting opportunity."

Acquired in January, the EPS Canine Unit reached out to the Foundation to see if Mawji and his family would be interested in naming the then eight-week-old Belgian Malinois. 

"For over 20 years, the EPS — and the community we serve — have benefitted from the unwavering support of the EPF," said Constable Jason Born, EPS Canine Unit and PPSD trainer. "We wanted to take the time to acknowledge the hard work and effort that Ashif and the Mawji Family have done for both organizations."

Choosing a name is neither swift nor straightforward. But after much deliberation, the Mawji Family — with the help of McDavid and his girlfriend, Lauren — settled on 'Sammy,' in honour of Oilers Alumni Dave Semenko.

"In considering the name, my family talked it over and thought, 'Wouldn't it be nice to include our Oilers captain and get his family's thoughts on the name?'," explained Mawji.

"We reached out to Connor and Lauren, and they were thrilled. We see our EPS canines as protectors, defenders, enforcers and those that look out for us, which is exactly what Dave did for our Oilers. Also, the EPS and Oilers have a great relationship, and it made sense to include them; we found it fitting."

The two-time Stanley Cup Champion and Oilers legend died on June 29, 2017, after a short but hard-fought battle with pancreatic cancer. He is remembered as a fierce competitor, loyal teammate, and fan favourite both on and off the ice.

“On behalf of the Semenko Family, I would like to thank the Edmonton Police Service for choosing to name their newest PPSD recruit, ‘Sammy,’ in honour of David,” said Brian Semenko, Dave’s brother. “An enormous part of David’s life was being an Edmonton Oiler. From the age of 20, being a member of this team was something he loved deeply.

“The EPS, the Foundation and the Canine Unit are also a team that David would be proud to be associated with. I especially want to thank the Mawji Family, Connor and Lauren, and the Foundation for electing David’s nickname, ‘Sammy,’ for EPS’ newest four-legged trainee. Our family loved David, we miss him, and it’s very nice knowing he is still fondly remembered."

All of the EPS' Police Service Dogs (PSDs) become part of the ThresholdImpact DOG SQUAD program, which was generously provided by Dr. Ray Muzyka and Leona de Boer. A partner of EPF, DOG SQUAD supports the purchases of PSDs, training and equipment to help keep the EPS a top-dog for canine policing in Canada. 

"A special thanks to our EPF partner ThresholdImpact for establishing DOG SQUAD and to Pete & Shari MacKay for creating a benevolent fund for retired police service dogs," said Mawji.

With the help of programs like these, the EPS' canines are supported from the start of their career and into their retirement.

From purchasing the EPS’ first helicopter in 2001 to funding programs that help advance and transform community policing, the EPF serves as the only charitable organization committed to raising funds in support of the Service.

"The EPF covers the cost of and supports every one of our canines that our unit receives," explained Const. Born, who is the dog handler for the first 10 months of a PPSDs training. "We can't express our gratitude enough and deeply appreciate all that the Foundation and its partners have done for us."

The EPS' Canine Unit consists of 14 general Constable–PSD teams, two explosive detection teams, and one human remains team.