Police Puppy Walking How It All Started – My personal Experience
(This experience was originally published in September 2011 in a series of separate posts. I have now amalgamated them into this one feature post and re published as a whole story in 2017)
When our one and only dog, Tara (a German Shepherd) passed away at the age of 12, we did not get another dog, as both Steve and I worked full time and didn’t think it would be fair on the dog to leave it on its own. Nineteen years passed, and as we now work from home with our silver business, we did talk about having another dog.
Steve however was not too keen, as he didn’t want the tie and commitment for the next 10 years or so. However one day in our local paper there as advertisement with a photograph of a German Shepherd puppy with a police hat on, with a plea for volunteers to be police dog puppy walkers for a scheme run by the Devon & Cornwall Police.
They were appealing for dog lovers to take on a puppy to give them a good, caring home for up to 12 months, before the pups go on to start their police training.
As this was only for 12 months, it might be just the push that Steve and I needed to then get a dog of our own. How could I resist, although Steve wasn’t sure that this would be a good idea, as a) the dog would not be ours and b) he was worried how I would cope when the time came to hand it back to the police.
I assured him that I would be fine (famous last words!!!).
I submitted my application and waited, and waited, but about 12 months passed before I got the phonecall to ask if I was still interested.
Well of course I was, and was visited by a dog handler who came and had a chat and to check that the house and garden would be suitable. He tried his hardest to put me off, but I think he knew he was hitting his head against a brick wall, as I had made up my mind and nothing was going to stop me.
A few days later I got the phonecall I had been waiting for, to say that the Dog Section Training Sergeant had collected two puppies from a breeder in Leicester and I had been allotted one of them.
On the 9th October 2009 we went to Exeter to pick up him up, and we were met with this 8 week old, small bundle of black fluff, who we named ROLFE. We were told that he was in fact the runt of the litter and was below average weight and size, but the Sergeant saw great character in him, as he had to fight for everything when he was with his mum and siblings, and decided that Rolfe and one of his brothers would be the ones to come back to Devon & Cornwall.
Rolfe was certainly not shy, and was bounding around the room whilst I filled in the paperwork and given a folded over piece of paper giving very basic instructions, explaining the role of the puppy walker.
I was also given a diary where I was to record Rolfe’s progress as and when he was introduced to new situations and how he dealt with them. In this piece of paper was a paragraph stating that the Dog Training Instructor would call on a monthly basis to check on the puppy’s progress. This will be referred to later on.
Rolfe was also extremely interested in the food sack, that was going to be coming home with us. Once all the formalities had been done, I picked him up and loaded the dog crate, the sack of food, bowls, a couple of toys, tiny collar and lead into the car.
We left Exeter with Rolfe sitting on my lap for the 40 minute journey to our house in Ivybridge. Rolfe was a bit fidgety to start with, but then fell asleep and was as good as gold.
We arrived home and showed Rolfe around his new environment, and he appeared not to be phased at all. For the next 12 months, Rolfe took over our lives – and house!!! I could write a book on this experience, but have shortened it as much as I can, but have included some lovely photographs.
Rolfe’s Early Months
Well this is where Rolfe’s time with us started and I have included just a few of the hundreds of photographs that we took while he was with us.
Rolfe made himself at home, and settled in extremely quickly.
As you can see he was extremely small but oh how cute!!! The photos below were some of the very first photos that we took of him.
I had to wait for a few weeks after his injections before I could take him out into the big wide world, but he enjoyed playing in the garden, and was particularly interested in our small fishpond and ornamental frog.
I remember the first time that I put on his collar and lead and took him out for his very first walk.
Over the coming months, the walks got longer, and he loved going up on the moors in walking distance from our house.
I introduced him to as many different aspects of daily life as I could, I he applied himself very well and was very inquisitive and eager to learn new things.
We took him to a local beach for the very first time, and he loved playing in the sand, which was a new terrain for him, and then down to the waters edge, although he wasn’t too keen and ran back as soon as the very tiny waves broke.
On walks to follow he was very interested in water (rivers and streams), although he was a bit of a baby when it came to actually putting his feet in. You could see he so wanted to try it, but was just that bit wary of it.
We tried throwing tennis balls in for him to retrieve, but he never plucked up the courage, and we lost loads of balls that just floated down the river.
However, Steve came up with a brilliant solution to try and get him to swim.
He made a hole in the tennis ball and threaded a very long piece of string through it. We threw it in the river knowing that we always had hold the end of it and we wouldn’t lose it, and made it easier for Rolfe to go after it. Well it worked a treat and eventually Rolfe took the plunge, retrieved the ball, got out and wanted to go in again and again, and from this day on, he never looked back and absolutely loved any water, be it river or sea, and became a really strong swimmer.
Every time we went passed any sort of water, he would be in it, and then would not come out.
Although he didn’t like the hosepipe and would run away when he was small.
However as he grew and became bolder, he decided that it was not so bad after all, and every time we came back from a hot walk, and with him being all black didn’t like the heat, loved to be hosed down to cool off and would go and stand in front of the hosepipe in readiness for the shower.
He was also into everything, including helping me unload and load the washing machine and dishwasher, taking the washing out of the laundry basket to go on the line
And he was also very helpful planting out the bedding plants
During these early months, Rolfe grew and grew, he loved his food (and when he was a tiny pup, loved scrambled egg and weetabix with warm milk), and it wasn’t long before he was above average in size and weight (although he was all muscle with not an ounce of fat on him).
As he was now the only one with no siblings to fight for food, he was making up for lost time.
The Next Few Months
Rolfe continued to grow and became a large, very fit, strong and healthy dog, and his black coat shone. He loved being groomed and as soon as I mentioned the word “brush” he would rush into the office where I kept his brushes, look up at them and rush out to the place we always used in the garden.
As Rolfe was not very good at keeping still, I always made sure I had a treat in my hand, which worked wonders, as unless I was able to finish the job in hand, he didn’t get his much loved treat.
He did however, demand a lot of our attention, and always wanted to be doing something, never sitting still for very long, and was always keen to learn new things. We played all sorts of stimulation games with him, and had to go on long walks to try to tire him out.
He had a huge character and both myself and Steve grew very fond of him and we loved him to bits. I always however, had to keep reminding myself, that he was not our dog and it wouldn’t be too long before he had to leave us, to which I realised at this stage that it was going to be a lot harder than I thought it would.
The Dog Training Sergeant visited our house on a couple of occasions, only staying for about 10 minutes, but did say he was very pleased with how Rolfe was progressing and said “any handler would be proud to have him on his arm”.
We attended a training day at Middlemoor Police Headquarters in Exeter one Sunday, where Rolfe was assessed, along with his brother with some basic training, which included tracking (which he was a natural at), doing some basic agility, and entering an empty building and going up an open spiral staircase.
He was very bold with going in to the empty building, and although going up the staircase was fine, he wasn’t quite so keen on coming down, and had to be coaxed, but eventually made it.
As we live about a 40 minute drive from Middlemoor it was an extremely long day, and I think we finally arrived back home at around 4.00 p.m. During this time we were with the Dog Training Sergeant, travelling from one place to another, we were not even offered a cup of tea, and were just a little disappointed in this, as although we were not expecting anything towards petrol money, a cup of tea would have been nice.
Rolfe at this age was on 3 meals a day, and we left in the morning, I took some lunch up for him. However, when I asked for time to give him his meal, I was told “they can go 24 hours without food”, which I have to say hearing this, made me very annoyed, as I am sure that the sergeant would not go without food for 24 hours.
Sea Dog Rolfe
Steve and his brother have a small day fishing boat which is moored in the River Dart at Dartmouth, and as we had to introduce Rolfe to as many different situations as possible, we decided to take him for a trip out on the boat.
We knew he would probably never have to go on a boat in his police life, but thought just in case it might be a useful exercise, and something completely different for him. Well, as you can imagine, anything to do with water he was in his element and loved every second of it.
Snow Dog Rolfe
In complete contrast to the lovely sunny day above, Rolfe experienced the snow, and again just like the water, he loved it.
Being an all black dog, he did suffer with the heat and would always find a shady spot to sit.
However the snow and the cold were right up his street, and as his ancestors were bred in Czechlosavakia, the cold was more suitable for him.
We did have quite a lot of snow down here in the West Country and Rolfe benefited from this.
Rolfe’s 1st Birthday
Rolfe’s 1st Birthday Police Puppy Walking
His 1st birthday treat was a day out at Slapton (his favourite beach) with the frisbee we bought him and the birthday cake I made (even police dogs celebrate birthdays).
Also take note of the pepparami stick candle.
Rolfe absolutely loved this and I had to buy some more to make sure I always had some in the house, as they were his favourite treat, and he would do anything for one.
Up Until The Time He Had To Go – Rolfe The Police Puppy
As stated in my previous posts, Rolfe kept us extremely busy and he loved going for his walks, particularly up on a little piece of Dartmoor behind our house, which we did on a daily basis.
He loved it up there and loved to chase his ball. We walked in all weathers, and it certainly did wonders for my waistline, as I lost about a stone and a half (I am an imperial baby!!).
Below are some of my favourite photographs of him out enjoying himself
The months went on, and as mentioned in an earlier post, the basic manual that I was given stated that a training instructor would visit on a monthly basis. This happened in the first two months, and then Rolfe was only visited once more in the next 12 months spending a total of about 30 minutes with Rolfe.
We were also promised various other aspects of training, including that Rolfe would be taken out by Plymouth dog handlers during their working day, but none of this ever materialised.
Apart from one other training visit to Middlemoor, Rolfe had no insight what his working life would entail, so he had a very big shock in store.
He did however have to go Middlemoor for a week in July 2010 for a new Handler assesment course.
Although he was not actually being assessed, it was the potential new handlers, he apparentley behaved himself very well, and apart from having spent a couple of weeks in commercial kennels whilst we went on holiday, this was the first time that he would experience the working kennels.
As puppy walkers, we are not provided with any outside kennels and the puppies are expected to be kept as family dogs living inside the homes.
It wasn’t long before the 12 months were up and it was time for Rolfe to go.
I then received a phone call to say that Rolfe would be going on a 4 day assessment course at Middlemoor, and was given a date that he would be collected.
I was also told that this would be the last time that I would see him, as this would be the start of this training, basically to make the most of the time we had left. I then received a phonecall a couple of days later, to say that this course has been postponed for a couple of weeks.
This day finally came and Rolfe was collected.
We packed his bags, along with the diary that I had meticulously kept of his progress. As I knew his character inside and out, I thought it would be nice to type up some character traits he had, and his likes and dislikes, so that his new handler would have a little insight into his makeup and perhaps make the transition a little easier.
Whether they were ever read it, I had no idea.
We said our last goodbyes as the white dog van rolled up outside the house.
We led him to the van, where he was put beside another dog who was on her way to start her new life and as the van drove up the road, the tears started!!!
Rolfe’s new working life was about to start – or was it?
Rolfe Came Back
Rolfe went on his way up to Middlemoor for his assessment week and once the van left, I packed all of Rolfe’s toys up and put them up in the attic. In the next few days, I began to get used to him not being around, and wondered all the time how he was getting on.
The training sergeant phoned me two days into the course, to say that he was doing extremely well. During this week, it transpired that the intake for puppies into the Devon & Cornwall police was filled, and Rolfe, his brother and another bitch were therefore surplus to requirements and were offered to the Gloucestershire force, as they were desperate for dogs at that particular time.
A training sergeant from the Gloucestershire force came down to assess the three dogs, and decided that he would take all three, but unfortunately he would not be able to take them until the following Tuesday.
I was then telephoned mid afternoon on that Friday (the end of the assessment week), as was the puppy walkers for the other two dogs, to ask could we have them back for the weekend as Gloucestershire had no provision to house the dogs over the bank holiday weekend.
What could I do, but to agree, and Steve and I drove up to Middlemoor to collect Rolfe (who we thought we would not see again). He and his brother were left in the large police van, in their separate cages with the back door open, on their own, as the Sergeant took bitch to her handler down in Cornwall.
We went to the back of the van and Rolfe lurched out, and seemed to be extremely pleased to see us.
As we walked him back to the car and past the dog kennels, Rolfe really pulled away and appeared not to want to go anywhere near them, and Steve had to hang on to him as he walked him around the other side of the van to avoid them, as Rolfe obviously didn’t want to go anywhere near them.
I have no idea why he did this, but can only assume that he had a bad experience in these kennels and was making it perfectly clear of his feelings.
Well, he bounded back through the back gate and settled back, as if he had never been away. We had him for the 4 days over that weekend, and then we had to say goodbye to him all over again.
The van came to collect him on the Tuesday, and off he went. Hankies to the ready again and we were back to where we were the week before.
This was going to be an extremely long day for him, as from Middlemoor he would then be off to Gloucester, and once in Gloucester he would be united with his dog handler.
I was informed that his handler was a new handler and had not had a dog before and therefore Rolfe and him would be doing the initial 13 week training together.
He appeared to settle with his handler, who kept me in contact with Rolfe’s progress, and said that Rolfe was throwing himself into everything and appeared to be loving it, and was actually helping the handler through the training.
He did however comment that Rolfe did not like being groomed. I could not believe this, as as I stated in a previous post, Rolfe loved to be groomed, perhaps he just liked the female touch!!!
I then had a phonecall from the Devon & Cornwall Police Dog Training Sergeant, on the Monday at the start of the 10th week of the 13 week training course, to say that Rolfe had been withdrawn from his handler, as he had alleged that Rolfe had gone for him.
I couldn’t believe it. I was told however that apparently, this handler was so keen in passing the course that he was making Rolfe work at weekends aswell as during the week and not giving him any down time!! I can only think that Rolfe took umbridge at this and was letting him know, enough was enough, and he wanted some play time.
I was told during this phone call that Rolfe would be coming back to Devon & Cornwall, where he would be placed with an experience handler whose dog was just about to retire and the handler needed a new dog, and him and Rolfe would have to go on the next training course which was due to start just after Christmas.
However, he was not allowed to take Rolfe on, until a home had been found for his current dog, and Rolfe would have to go into commercial kennels until he was ready to take him. Christmas was coming and I was aksed if I would have Rolfe until he could be placed with the handler. Although I would have loved to have had him back for a while, I actually thought this was totally unfair on Rolfe, as he was now used to kennel and working life and to come back with all the comforts of a home life, would have made him totally confused.
He had already gone through the trauma of adjusting from basically being a pet, to a working dog with no integration whatsoever, but had just been expected to cope with the huge transition that he was being asked to do.
Steve and I had also booked a holiday the day after Boxing Day, so unfortunatley I had with a heavy heart have to say “No”. Rolfe was then put in commercial kennels for about 3 weeks, before the handler could take him.
He went with the experienced handler, who I was told got on very well with Rolfe, but after having him for two weeks he then had issues with him and it didn’t work out. Apparently Rolfe showed aggression again and added to this he had taken a sudden dislike to shiny floors.
This is quite important, as police dogs have to be able to walk on all surfaces, but apparently with lots of coaxing they could not get him to walk on them. I did find this rather odd, as Rolfe was brought up on our tiled floor in the kitchen and hallway, and had months and months of experience on these floors and had absolutely no trouble with them. Again I was also told that Rolfe protested when he was being groomed.
So it was decided that Rolfe would obviously not make a police dog and was returned to his breeder in Leicester.
I was mortified that he had failed so close to completing his initial training and I felt for him, as now he was going to be moved somewhere else and be back in kennels once again.
Rolfe The German Shepherd Police Puppy The Next Chapter
After about a week I was desperate to know how Rolfe was, so I phoned up the kennel hand in Middlemoor who I had quite a lot of dealing with when Rolfe was with us.
She assured me that Rolfe would be found a good home, probably with a Security Firm. She did also say that the breeder John is very good and will do his very best to find his dogs good homes. She did say that the main problem was Rolfe was his sudden aversion to shiny floors which they could see that he was not going to conquer.
She also said that the aggression side was not a problem as long as he was with an experienced handler, it was just him trying to dominate and she assured me he was wired up ok and he was not vicious.
She did say that she would be speaking to the breeder in a few weeks and if she remembered she would ask him if he knew what happened to Rolfe. I was really glad that I spoke to her as she did assure me that Rolfe would be okay.
Weeks went by and I heard absolutely nothing. I was intent on finding out how Rolfe was, I know I shouldn’t but I couldn’t stop thinking about him and eventually with lots of research found the breeder and contacted him. He eventually telephoned me with some info about Rolfe.
He had told me had gone to security firm and lives at home with his handler (although he did also mention that there were kennels there). It was out in the country and Rolfe had lots of walks and spent a lot of time with his handler and his handler loves him to bits.
All seemed well and at last I thought I can now put my mind to rest, as according to the breeder, Rolfe at last seemed settled. I did ask if he could ask the security firm to contact me but again I heard absolutely nothing.
I did send a letter to the breeder asking for him to forward I on the security firm, and basically asking when Rolfe’s working life as finished, if it was possible could I first refusal to have him back to spend his last few years with us. Guess what – I heard nothing.
I know I said above that my mind had been put to rest, but clearly it hadn’t, and it was still festering. One day I had enough and I was determined to locate him, even though it was going to be like finding a needle in a haystack.
I looked up dog security firms on the internet and came across, a security firm that trains security dogs and it sounded like a possibility where Rolfe could be. I telephoned them and spoke to a lovely gentleman who was extremely helpful and loves his German Shepherds and said he could talk until next week about them.
It transpired that he did not have Rolfe but he had heard about him and gave me a name of a kennels that sounded like the one the breeder had told me about.
I couldn’t believe my luck so I emailed this firm and gave some background information about Rolfe, to make sure we were talking about the same dog and lo and behold I received an email back saying
“Rolfe is still in the central kennels and has been progressed through a resettlement programme. He is being prepared for a full initial course at present. He is a loving and kind young dog with lots of potential and we have high hopes for him”.
I was ecstatic, I had phoned him at long last and all appeared to be well.
Now at this point, I should have left it, but after reading their email it was apparent that Rolfe was still far from being settled and after a long discussion between Steve and myself, we decided that before Rolfe progressed any more with any training, that we would like to have him back and give him the loving home that quite clearly he craved.
Steve contacted the owner of the security kennels and had a long chat with him, making sure that he would be suitable as a pet, taking into account that he had been pushed from pillar to post over the last 9 months, including completing a 9 week police training course.
He said that Rolfe now (known as Roly by him) was a kind and loving dog and had no worries about him coming to us. Said he was taken out twice a day on his 7 acres.
He also had chickens and Rolfe didn’t chase them. He also said he was good with other dogs and was well behaved on the lead.
He said we had done a good job.
We agreed on a price and decided that we wanted to go and get him and travelled all the way up Leicester in the car that we bought 3 days before we went so it would house Rolfe in the back.
Rolfe’s The German Shepherd Police Dog Puppy Homecoming – Or Not – Hankies At The Ready
We knew it was going to take about 4 hours to get there, so we said that we would hopefully get there about 2.00 p.m. However when we arrived at the Farm, we were met by the owner only to be told that he had tried to contact us this morning to tell us not to go up as Rolfe had gone for him when he tried to groom him. He did not have our mobile so did not get us in time.
As we were there he proceeded to take us to Rolfe’s kennel.
We arrived to see Rolfe going mad at the bars of the kennels, barking and snarling and we had to look twice to see if it really was him but we confirmed it was.
He then said that if we waited in the yard he would let him out, (after he told us that his kennel man was afraid of him and wouldn’t go near him).
He let him out and Rolfe came bounding over to us.
We kept saying his name and it wasn’t long before he showed his feelings and it was obvious that he recognised us.
He put his paws up on Steve’s shoulders and then he nuzzled into me.
The security kennel owner was amazed and said that he had never seen anything like it. He called over his staff and wife to see what was happening, who all stood looking on in amazement.
It was then I looked at him and saw what an awful state he was in.
His coat was dull, moulting and was hanging off and he was as thin as a rake, and you could feel his protruding ribs.
It was a complete shock.
It was quite obvious that he had not been groomed for months, so clearly what happened that morning was the first time that he had been groomed for a considerable time. The kennel owner said that when Rolfe came to him he was very overweight, which I couldn’t believe, as when I had Rolfe, he was never ever overweight, so if this was the case, then clearly he had not been getting enough exercise.
But now it was the complete opposite. He was smaller and thinner than we he left us. I was extremely upset and angry that he was in this state.
We then went out into a field with Rolfe and I was given some grooming brushes, as during our conversation, I had said that I never had a problem grooming him. This was quite a risk as only a few yours ago, Rolfe had apparently gone for the owner.
I did go prepared with some of Rolfe’s favourite pepparami sticks and held it in my hand, and began grooming him, with absolutely no trouble and he just stood there.
I carried on for quite a while, but as his coat was in such an appalling mess it would have taken a very long time to get all the long hair out. Again the owner looked amazed and couldn’t quite believe it.
Quite clearly it was the first time that he had tried to groom him this morning before we came up.
But this recognition of Rolfe’s part was very short lived.
We stayed with him in the field calling him, but he was not responding. We threw a couple of balls for him which he chased but did not come back to us and ran out of the field. We called him but no response.
Another man was there with 2 German Shepherd bitches, and Rolfe was absolutely fine with them chased the balls with them and was not being aggressive in any way towards them. It appeared however that he had lost his trust in humans and did not want anything to do with them.
The dogs then went out and we were left with him again on our own trying to bond, but there was nothing.
He picked up his ball and went and sat in the shade and ignored us. We tried to coax him to us, but I have to say looking at him he had that look in eyes and we even became a a bit wary of him, he was definitely not the same dog that had left us.
It seems as if all his huge character had been knocked out of him. We tried and tried but it was clear that after the initial excitement he was not interested in us.
The first few minutes were brilliant, but then it faded fast.
We took the decision that he was not the dog that we handed back to the police 9 months previously, and he was not the dog that we could safely bring home.
He certainly was not a pet. We had to make the heartbreaking decision that something had gone wrong along the way and we could not take the risk of bringing him home.
As we were talking to the kennel owner, I noticed in the corner of my eye that Rolfe was picking up his tennis ball and dropping it in front of him as if he wanted to play, but clearly it was not with us or any other human.
It was terribly sad to see him and I was utterly distraught, but I knew that the time had come that I now had to let him go forever. It was probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make, and I probably will regret it for ever.
How the kennel owner said that he would make a super pet, clearly was not the case, and we were quite angry and disappointed that it appeared that we made a round trip of over 8 hours for nothing.
He did however say, that now he had seen Rolfe’s behaviour with us, he would spend more time with him, hose him down when he was hot (as I told him he loved that) and perhaps take him out in his car and try to work on him.
Whether he does is another matter, but Rolfe was not Rolfe as we knew him and as his name is now Roly, that is now his identity.
Heartbreaking though it was, it was obviously meant to be and fate took a hand. I do however hope that the person or persons who made him in this state feel guilty!!!!!
Fingers crossed that the kennel owner manages to turn things around and he ends up happy somewhere, but it will take a long long time. We drove home without him, feeling absolutely gutted, but we had no option.
It is quite obvious that Rolfe has had a truly awful time since leaving us, being pushed from different kennel to different kennel, and never settling down with someone who would love him like we did. I actually feel quite guilty of giving him such a good and happy time, in his first twelve months.
The End And Conclusion – Rolfe The German Shepherd Police Dog Puppy
No, it is not the end. I thought of nothing for a few days and decided to email the kennel owner sending photographs of Rolfe as he was when he left us, and stating my horror at what he looked and acted like on our visit.
I festered over the next few days and decided to contact the RSPCA.
Within half an hour a female Inspector was in the area and went to see him. She contacted me immediately, but stated she was not worried by his condition or his welfare, which I have to say I was quite surprised at. She said he had enough skin around his ribs. She did however say that his aggression could be a problem and if he could not re homed and if he was not going to stay at the security kennels then it might be best to put him down.
She said that unfortunately there was nothing the RSPCA could do in relation to his past and what had happened to him.
So please if you are a dog lover, then please, please think very carefully about taking on a police dog puppy.
If it does not make the grade, then please consider carefully what might happen to the dog after it leaves you.
I know that there are volunteers out there who have offered their services and have had many puppies, some being successful and some not, but I wonder if they have ever tracked down the dogs that failed to see what happened to them.
I am not sure that anyone else would have spent so much time on finding out, but I am me and it was just something I had to do. My story did not have a happy ending but I know that Rolfe will never be far from my thoughts.
I have to say that after taking part in this particular puppy walking scheme, I found it not to be run very satisfactorily from the Puppy Walkers perspective.
The very poor basic manual was less than impressive.
The supposed regular monthly checks never materialised.
We were promised lots of different things that again never happened. In my opinion it is just a cheap way for pups to be put with members of the public to save money for the Police, as you have to be committed and be prepared to give up an awful lot of time to look after and bring these puppies on.
These young pups (and definitely in Rolfe’s case) are expected to make the transition from a pet to a working dog, with no gradual integration whatsoever, and I know for a fact that lots do fail.
Having experienced the Police scheme first hand, I think that Police Dog Handlers should raise these pups in environments that the pups will have to get used to during their working lives.
Surely an experienced dog handler knows what to look for and can train these pups to the standard that is needed.
It would also be so much kinder on the puppies as giving them to members of the public, who look after and treat them as family members is not fair on the pups, as this is not the life they will have in the future.
To see Rolfe for the last time in the condition he was in, and knowing that he was badly treated along the way by so called professionals is heartbreaking, and his treatment should not have been allowed to happen.
We handed over to the Police a handsome dog in tip top condition, who was extremely intelligent, and it is extremely galling to think we worked very hard to give Rolfe a good start in life, only for it to be ruined in what was a relatively short period of time.
I therefore urge any dog lover who is contemplating puppy walking for the police, that you think very hard before making that decision. I did enjoy it although it was hard work, bringing this little pup through its first 12 months life, but that was all for nothing in Rolfe’s case, as soon as he was handed to over to the professionals.
If you are thinking of puppy walking, then please try other organisations like the Hearing Dogs for Deaf people, which I am now a volunteer, In the knowledge that no puppies or dogs would be treated like Rolfe was, or the Guide Dogs for the Blind.
The training of these pups are far superior than anything the police offered, and if any dog does not make it, then they are easily re-homed to a family environment, as that is all they have been used to.
Please, please, please, if Rolfe (or Roly as he is now known) eventually finds a kind and loving owner, and settles in a permanent environment somewhere, I would absolutely love to know, as I still think about him since I saw him last and the awful time he has had since leaving me
Rolfe The German Shepherd Police Dog Puppy Some Photos Of His Handsome Self And Rolfe Being Rolfe
I do have loads of photographs of Rolfe, but have had to just pick a few showing what a handsome, healthy and extremely fit dog he grew into.
As you can see his coat gleamed and he left us in absolutely tip top condition and was a fine specimen of a German Shepherd.
Roxann Lucas says
I was throughouly engrossed in Rolfe’s story, you are quite the writer! By the end I found myself in tears. I cannot imagine the guilt you must have felt…perhaps still do. Paws crossed that Rolfe has found a Loving Furever Family. What a GORGEOUS BGSD!
In my years of volunteering/fostering for my local county sheriff’s animal shelter I found the time fostering to be very rewarding. Pulling unwanted pups from the shelter environment and into my home to make them more “adoptable” was a True act of Love. As your work with Companion Canines for the Deaf surely is. Thank you for all that you do and for posting Rolfe’s story.
Thank you for your comment and for your thoughts and naturally anyone who read my post would be upset by it. I doubt very much if Rolfe found a furever loving home and I have always feared the worst that he is no longer here (which probably would have been the best for him after what he went through). An awful thing to say I know, but I would have hated for him to have endured even more bad treatment. He could however have made a good security dog and he could have had a happy ending but I will never know. A family home though definitely not. Quite frankly we felt it would not have been safe for him to go back to a family environment with us, and it was a heartbreaking decision to have to leave him.
As you read in my blog when we went to see him with the intention of bringing him back home with us, but he was not the dog I handed over to the Police. Once in their hands at the flick of a switch he then went into training (as they all do) so all the home comforts gone and having to living in a kennel. However he went through the training and passed and went to a police dog handler and then it all went wrong. He was then pushed from pillar to post and ending up where we saw him with a Security training firm. I wish that he had actually failed his police training and then he might have found his furever home (with us) and not had to endure the life he ended up with.
How these so called professional bodies treated poor Rolfe was appalling.
Laurie Broad says
Thank you for the story I had one just like yours. Spitting image named Blackie 11
Real blessing best dog I owned.