You can take this job and chew it

Gavel the former police dog in training has been in the news lately, and not just because he’s darn cute:

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If you’re not familiar with Gavel’s story, he was bred and trained to become a police sniffer dog in Queensland, Australia.  There was nothing wrong with his sniffer other than a preference for people over contraband.

In short, Gavel was too friendly to be a police dog.  He was easily distracted by the lure of potentially friendly humans to keep his mind (and nose) on the job.

Like many working dog drop-outs, Gavel landed on his paws and his excellent training is serving him well as the official Greeter Dog for the Governor of Queensland, Australia. Not a bad use for his talents, hey?

Training programs for service dogs, police dogs, medical dogs, even therapy dogs, have their drop outs, and almost all of those drop outs go on to become truly amazing pet dogs because they’re so well trained, socialized, and adapted to the world around them.  Some even go on to another line of work.  (Seriously, keep training programs in mind when you’re thinking about a new dog!)

Usually, they drop out of their programs because they’re not suitable to the entirety of type of work they need to do.  You don’t want a thoroughly distractable dog leading a Blind person into a busy intersection!  And you don’t want a dog with fear of tall men working where he or she might come into contact with them.

These ingrained traits may not show up fully until adulthood or slip through the cracks of puppy temperament testing.  They can also be acquired through on the job trauma, which is always a sad state of affairs but no fault of the dog and his or her training.

Just like humans, sometimes a dog needs a change of work to be in their best health and to find the best use of their talents.

Ada Luna also had to drop out of her training and landed on her paws. Her new home environment allows her more confidence in what she can and can’t see, and her excursions into the world working with her new handler are shorter and more sporadic than they were on the 9-5 grind.

The result? Ada Luna is happier, her skills are being put to work, and she’s back to being the confident dog she was before her vision took a turn for the worse, secure in the knowledge that her current handler is able to give her a quiet safe space when the world becomes overwhelming to her.

She also gets to spend a bigger part of the day snuggled up on a lap where she’s at her most secure instead of spending the day home alone while the service dogs of the house went out to work.

Everybody wins!

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Here are just a handful of the many, many, service dog training programs with loving canine drop outs for adoption:

  • DogsfortheDeaf.Org
  • GuideDogs.com
  • PawsWithACause.org
  • SamSimonFoundation.com

Many more can be found with a quick Google search for “adoptable career change dogs.”

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