Terrance Patrick Cahill, 95, police dog trainer

October 29, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Terrance Patrick Cahill, an animal trainer who assisted in the growth of Baltimore and Washington's police dog programs, died in his sleep Saturday at his Towson home. He was 95.

Born in London, England, and orphaned as a child, he joined the Metropolitan Police Force in the early 1930s and became a constable, or bobby. He worked through the German bombing of London during World War II. During the wartime blackout, he rode a bicycle on his post.

"He told me, `I was never sure whether I'd come home or come home to a home,'" said a friend, James Matarese, who is member of the U.S. Park Police in Washington.

Before moving to Baltimore in 1959, Mr. Cahill had for a decade handled and trained police dogs, which were used to deter crime and conduct search-and-rescue missions in building collapses associated with the war.

Mr. Cahill also trained police dogs for English counties and for Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Cyprus, Iraq, Jordan and Sri Lanka. Newspaper articles said the British picked up the idea of using dogs from Germans who used them on border patrols.

"We have found that criminals stay put when the dogs are after them," Mr. Cahill told an Evening Sun reporter in 1958, the year before he was hired by Baltimore police officials. "They seem to freeze up and often cry, `Keep off the dog, and I give up.'"

Mr. Cahill, whose daughter married a Baltimorean, was offered a job training police dogs after visiting her here.

When he left London, he was a sergeant in the K-9 Corps of the London police. A British newspaper ran an article titled "Scotland Yard's loss is Baltimore's Gain." He sailed on the Queen Mary with his German shepherd, Alex. Over the years, Mr. Cahill had a succession of police dogs named Alex.

According to a 1959 Sun article, the dogs Mr. Cahill trained were used around city hospitals, where visitors and nurses were victims of assaults and purse snatchings.

After less than a year on the Baltimore police force, Mr. Cahill was hired away by Washington's Metropolitan Police Department, where he set up a police dog program before retiring about 30 years ago. The dogs he trained were used around the Capitol and White House, among other locations.

Mr. Cahill remained active in police dog training and often judged dog field trials. Friends said he believed in the abilities of his animals to deter crime, but in the early 1970s, he changed his tactics and training so that his dogs were used to sniff and detect controlled substances and explosives.

"Through his ability and his expertise, he became well-known in the police canine circles nationally," said Russell Hess, executive director of the U.S. Police Canine Association. "Some people have an uncanny knack with animals; Mr. Cahill did. But he also trained their handlers, too. He was excellent at both."

A national prize named for him, the Pat Cahill Award, is awarded annually by the Police Canine Association.

"What he believed in was a safe, controllable animal," Mr. Hess said. "His dogs knew the difference from right and wrong."

After Mr. Cahill retired, he saw a newspaper ad and took a job as gardener for Sidney and Jean Silber, who live in Lutherville. He worked for another 28 years, stopping at age 94.

When he retired, the Silbers gave him a cake bearing the legend "England may have its crown jewels, but we have Patrick."

His wife of 56 years, Marguerite "Rita" Marcella Young, a Pilot Blouse seamstress, died in 1989.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, on Ware Avenue in Towson.

Survivors include two daughters, Maureen P. Cobo of Fallston and Patricia Ware of Towson; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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