Labrador Dexter began his police career in training to become a sniffer dog. His role would have been to detect drugs and other contraband. However, during training, assessors labelled him too friendly and sociable. At times they also noticed how he became overly stressed during the rigorous process.
Normally, a dog that fails to qualify as a service dog is returned to the general population in order to be rehomed, but not this time thanks to PC Mike Sheather.
PC Sheather had already seen how the US Army uses canine love to boost human Oxytocin in its efforts to treat PTSD, and thought he may be able to offer similar support with Dexter’s help.
Dexter has since become the Force’s first wellbeing dog. With PC Sheather’s assistance, Dexter plays an invaluable role in treating Met police officers from every unit who have witnessed or experienced harrowing scenes.
PC Sheather received a commendation in 2011 for confronting and apprehending a gunman even after his colleague had been shot.
A real help to unsung bravery
Experienced police officers may be used to the rigours of their profession, but they are not immune to injuries both mental and physical. Dexter’s rise to fame points to a clear and present need to look after the mental health of those who are tasked to protect us.
In fact, the Dexter programme has been such a success that it has given rise to discussions about a roll-out of wellbeing dogs to other Forces up and down the country.