BARRY’S FAN CLUB: Kim “Smitty” Smith with dog Barry Bennett, Detective Senior Constable Jessica Tyrrell, Detective Senior Constable Leigh Mason. Photo: Esther MacIntyre

By ESTHER MACINTYRE

MAN’S best friend has caught the attention of Manly police officers at the Victorian-NSW border − for all the right reasons.

Senior Constables Leigh Mason and Jessica Tyrrell are dog lovers first, police officers second.

Border collies, border bitzers, even border pugs, have enjoyed pats for the past five days since the NSW officers joined RAAF personnel at Abbortsford Bridge checkpoint in Yelta/Curlwaa.

“We obviously talk to people coming through the border, to check their border passes and drivers licences and they often bring their dogs with them,”
Senior Constable Mason said.

“We love dogs, so we pat their dogs, and it’s been a great way to engage with people as well.”

One such pup is Barry Bennett, a cream-coloured terrier with a sweet temperament. Kim “Smitty” Smith works on Barry’s farm and has been looking after him since her own dog passed away.
“He’s been coming to work with me every day and he’s got quite a fan base between the police and the air force,” Smitty said.

When asked how many dogs came through each day, both women look at each other and laugh.

“We keep a tally!” Senior Constable Tyrrell said.

“The most we had was 15, I think. That was a great day. Most days there’s about three,” Senior Constable Mason said.

“We meet different dogs, we get used to them. We’re great friends with Isaac, he’s a lovely dog. And Barry of course.

“We met two German Shepherds this morning − we’re very familiar with that breed of course.”

Patting pooches isn’t the only joy of their week-long stay in Sunraysia.

“We’ve had a great experience with the community here,” Senior Constable Mason said. “With the dogs, but also they drop down scones, cakes, oranges… it’s been a really wonderful experience.”