Some people say that “almost” is the saddest word because it represents broken dreams; even Brandy had to sing about it saying that “Almost Doesn’t Count.” However, sometimes, it usually is for the best because the broken dreams enable us to pursue other paths which are meant for us. A cute puppy didn’t make it as police but got a huge promotion instead proves that “almost” can work out for the best. He almost made it in the police dog squad but got a job cut out for him after dropping out. Here’s Gavel’s story.
One Door Closes, Another Opens
When Gavel started his training to be a police dog, police were hopeful that he would be a prized asset to the K-9 unit. According to BBC, a press release for the police department read that if Gavel’s bloodline was anything to go by, the canine would in 16 months be a member of the Queensland Dog Squad. Unfortunately, they should have waited until they got to the bridge to cross because Gavel had other things in mind. Being a pure-bred German Shepherd, it did not matter that he came from a generation of police dog; he wanted to set himself apart from his relatives.
He had arrived at the training academy when he was six weeks old and was dressed in a tiny official police dog coat, ready to begin his 16-week training. It took the officers ten months to conclude that he did not have the right aptitude for a police dog thus removed him from Queensland Dog Squad roster. Gavel had been mingling with strangers instead of taking his job of fighting crime seriously. The Government staff wondered what to do with the dropout, but the Governor stepped in and offered to adopt him. The dog lived at the Governor’s house, so he and his wife had become used to seeing Gavel around.
Since they had already witnessed how much he loved belly rubs and meeting strangers, Gavel was given his first trial as a ceremonial participant. He helped the Governor meet and greet new citizens during a swearing-in ceremony, a job he performed flawlessly. In February 2017, Gavel was confirmed as the first official Vice-Regal Dog (VRD) and even signed an employment contract. Now the dog has exchanged his police dog coat for a unique coat that bears his name and the official Queensland emblem. He continues to perform his duties include welcoming visitors to the Queensland’s Government house, and attending all Government functions. Most of all, he has brought joy to the Governor, his wife and the entire Government staff. The Governor described him as a valued and much-loved part of the government House life.
Why Do Dogs Fail Police Training?
Gavel did not become a police dog because of being too friendly, but that is not the only reason dogs are let go from police dog training. According to Metro, there are various other reasons that aspiring police dogs are fired, and they include:
- Poor Concentration Skills – There are different types of police dogs, among who are substance detectors. Such dogs have to focus on detecting a specific substance. They are trained on how to respond when alerting the officer if there is cause for alarm. A dog that cannot concentrate on this crucial task will not help the police officers who are depending on the detection skills. One dog who failed her training is Emma, a Springer Spaniel who would not focus on searching so she had to be re-homed. Luckily, she found the right people to give her a permanent home.
- Not Brave Enough – They say being brave is not the lack of fear, but the ability to face it and some dogs do not have it in them to face their fears. Some like Cairo are afraid of the dark hence expecting them to chase down a criminal through a tunnel will be useless. If they cannot help maintain public order, then the police officers have no use for them; hence they have to be fired.
- Sickness – Unfortunately, some have to be fired due to circumstances beyond their control, like illness—an epileptic dog suffering an attack while on duty makes him a liability.
What Happens to Police Dog Dropouts?
Not many dogs are as lucky as Gavel who happened to land a forever home and job as soon as he was fired from police dog training. However, such dogs can be pets instead of joining the workforce, but only if they are adopted. Some agencies, for instance, the TSA Canine Training Center, run an adoption center for dogs who are not cut out for government work. According to Lifehacker, there is usually a list of requirements before you can be eligible for adoption. The dogs are crate-trained but not house-broken, have lots of energy and are aged between 2-10 years. Before they are released to you as the new owner, they are usually spayed, neutered and vaccinated. However, you should not view this chance to adopt as the easy way to get a trained dog at no or little cost. One man regretted adopting a police dog and ended up killing him according to the story published in Pivot Legal.
In July 2012, residents of a certain neighborhood in Vancouver discovered a German Shepherd covered in a blanket and in so much pain, he was crying. He had been beaten with a baseball bat so severely that he developed quadriplegia. He also had been stabbed and starved and the next day died of cardiac arrest. The dog, Captain, was a former police dog adopted after being disqualified from police training for being too gentle. Two months later, Captain’s owner killed Captain and during his sentence hearing explained that he was fearful of the dog.