Meet Darcy the first OK9 top dog

Published 11 Feb 2022
Written by
Oscar Kilo
National Police Wellbeing Service
Reading time
4 mins

After our wellbeing dogs and their handlers have been on visits we tend to get lots of feedback about the work they do and it is always overwhelmingly positive. Here is a collection of feedback about wellbeing dog Darcy and her handler PC Cathy Veale from Devon, Cornwall and Dorset Police Alliance, they are so great we decided she should be our first OK9 top dog.


Darcy wearing her OK9 wellbeing jacket
Darcy wearing her OK9 wellbeing dog jacket



Darcy is great for starting conversations. It can be intimidating to approach someone to ask for help or information. However, when the person has a dog, it makes them much more approachable. You don’t feel the need to have to leap straight in with whatever is bothering you. Petting Darcy is calming and helped me relax. I can keep my attention on the dog, rather than the person to feel more comfortable.


Knowing Darcy was on site yesterday I had decided to make contact and try to increase my exposure to dogs so I visited and stroked Darcy and had a chat with the lovely lady she was with, she has taken my name and agreed to meet me again to play with Darcy and help me beat my fear. I felt more relaxed after the visit despite my initial nerves.


Dogs bring such joy, even to those who are a little uncertain – they tend to win most people over. I meet so many people walking my own dogs and I also find that whilst I’m on patrol, talking to people who have dogs are a great way to get a conversation started – I usually have dog treats in my stab jacket!


Our colleague took ill suddenly the week before, the team were shocked and deeply saddened when we learned she had passed away. Our manager arranged for Cathy and Darcy to visit the team for half hour, it was an opportunity for us to reflect and talk about her with the comfort of Darcy being around.


Cathy and Darcy have an amazing bond which is lovely to see. Darcy was approachable, friendly, and loved the attention we all gave her. I genuinely felt better and calmer after seeing Darcy.


I think that Darcy is a very positive aspect to the force, as she brings everyone together and starts topics of conversation that otherwise wouldn’t be started. She always makes people smile and have a break from your desk which is very beneficial to everyone’s wellbeing.


Darcy helped relive the tension in the room and give everyone a much needed break away from screen time during a few different stressful times. She gave an external focus and boosted moral in the office. We very much enjoy the dog cuddles and would like them to continue please.


I was assisting the wellbeing team during wellbeing week, and it was evident that both wellbeing dogs Darcy and Hogan were pivotal with the interaction of officers and staff. I evidenced several contacts when officers and staff felt able to approach the handlers and engage in a way that merely picking up a leaflet would not have happened. I’ve been in Dorset Police for 42 years and this asset in assisting with the wellbeing of officers and staff can only help.


Thank you for taking the time to visit.  I feel that regular attendance by the welfare team is critical to picking up welfare needs of officers both physically and mentally. Many officers may not want to speak to their colleagues or supervisors but having a friendly face to talk to may be just what they need to open up and access the support available both internally and externally. The welfare dog is an excellent tool to break the ice and open up early conversation.


Darcy was a friendly dog and it reminded me of my lost friend (the reason for the memorial walk) as she was a dog lover. Darcy was a great talking point for all the group to focus on when feelings were running high and a distraction was needed.  Darcy also enabled us to have sensory touching which again was a welcome distraction.


Not only is Darcy an asset to the wellbeing unit but so is Cathy. She is friendly, puts everyone at ease and very knowledgeable about dogs and how they can help with anxiety and trauma.


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