Adorable Pup ‘Sacked’ From Guide Dog Training For Chasing Too Many Squirrels Re-Trained As Therapy Dog

by : Julia Banim on : 20 Dec 2019 16:57
Adorable Pup 'Sacked' From Guide Dog Training For Chasing Too Many Squirrels Re-Trained As Therapy DogAdorable Pup 'Sacked' From Guide Dog Training For Chasing Too Many Squirrels Re-Trained As Therapy DogSWNS/Pixabay

You don’t always find your dream career right off the bat. I myself worked as a woefully bad chugger in my early twenties, with any success hampered by the fact that I genuinely hated bothering people.


This is definitely a scenario that beautiful, kind-hearted River can relate to. The five-year-old Labrador was sacked from her intensive guide-dog training programme for being a bit too naughty.

Becoming a guide dog takes dedication and discipline, with the ability to focus on the task at hand no matter how many exciting sticks life may toss at you. Sadly, this didn’t fit with River’s personality type at all.

therapy dogtherapy dogSWNS

River was unable to commit herself to her training, instead preferring to chase squirrels around. No doubt many of us can relate.


However, River has since revealed herself as a heroine for late bloomers everywhere, having emerged from her sleek, furry chrysalis as a therapy animal.

River may not be the most focused pup in the world, but she is blessed with a sweet and caring temperament, and the path of a therapy dog fits her like a snug harness.

Early failures firmly behind her, River is now chasing her tail into pastures new; putting her best paw forward as the leader of a special pilot project at Kent’s Maidstone police station.

Having received her therapy dog accreditation in 2016 through the Pets as Therapy organisation, River is now an unstoppable dogboss. After spending time supporting children in a special educational needs school, she has since been moved onwards and upwards.

Drawing from her unique range of talents, lovable River now works to assist people who are young or suffering from mental illness after they have been taken into custody.

Sergeant Ian Sutton said:

We are often dealing with people in crisis and although their behaviour has resulted in arrest, they could be suffering with depression, anxiety or mental illness.

Young people may find themselves in custody too and in some cases they are scared and daunted by the experience, whilst others may have difficulty in communicating.

Being detained can exacerbate these issues and we are committed to ensure that police custody is a safe and supportive environment for both police, staff and detainees. We are always looking for new or innovative ways to achieve this.


Kent Police’s dog unit trainers first assessed River to make sure she was resilient enough to cope with the unpredictable nature of police station life. Fortunately, she absolutely smashed the assessment in December.

Sergeant Sutton added:

River has joined the team to offer emotional support to people who are experiencing difficulties, she provides a therapeutic benefit to those in crisis and helps to counter some of the negative behaviour we sometimes experience in custody.

Since beginning work with us she has had a notable positive impact on those she has spent time and the atmosphere in custody improves when she is on shift. This allows staff and officers to use their time more effectively rather than diffusing situations.

Many congratulations to River on turning her messy life around, and a million thank yous to her for providing this very worthy service.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Animals, Dogs, Guide Dog Training, puppy, Therapy Dog