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RAJAH - the wonder dog from Methven PDF Print E-mail
By Barbara Duffy - Rajah, a German Shepherd was an "unofficial" police dog in Methven in the 1930s and possibly the first police dog in New Zealand.  His owner, Mr John Robertson, having previously spent five years in London as a "bobby", was the Methven constable at the time. John and his son Ian trained Rajah from the age of six weeks.  Using a search and find method, and with Rajah's natural instinct, he became something of a legend in the district and throughout New Zealand.
In 1932 Rin Tin Tin died and Hollywood was looking for a replacement.  A  Dr Lewis from Fox Films spent a day with him and said, "Providing Rajah faces the footlights, he will be a winner over there."  When the time came however the family felt it was too big a move to make and he stayed put in Methven.
Ian, now 87 and living in Timaru, also recalls Rajah performing in the Civic Theatre in 1932.
"I remember a huge billboard which stood outside Addington Showground proclaiming "Rajah, the wonder dog from Methven!"
Rajah acquired quite a reputation over the years. On one occasion, when the railway line from Kaikoura to Blenheim was being extended police got word of a woman who had gone missing and they presumed foul play.
Rajah and John headed up to a Public Works' Camp at Parnassus and spent a week searching without success.  Many years later there was a huge flood in the area which took out one of the concrete bridge pillars exposing the remains of the missing person.  It was no wonder Rajah could not find her.
When John Robertson was later transferred to Bluff he was credited unofficially with having the first police dog in Southland.  Rajah had been trained to seek out hidden objects, and anecdotal evidence suggests he was occasionally used to track offenders.
Angela Grieve, through the Methven Community Council, has requested that a statue of Rajah be erected in front of the Methven Police Station.  Hannah Kid, a local sculptor, has been approached and Ian Robertson has already offered a healthy donation towards it.  "He was really the world's best," says Ian proudly.
 
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