OK9 top dog: Truffles

Published 15 Mar 2022
Written by
Paul Van Veen
Inspector, West Midlands Police
Reading time
5 mins

Congratulations goes to Truffles who is an OK9 top dog. In this article written by her handler Paul Van Veen from West Midlands Police, you can read about how Truffles made a difference to a young girl with selective mutism and how this has impacted her family life. 

Truffles was invited to domestic abuse refuge after their CEO reached out to us on Twitter. A visit was arranged and Truffles was immediately popular with mothers and their children. One lady approached me to talk about Truffles and told me her daughter, aged 5, was suffering with selective mutism, and hadn’t spoken to anyone, including mum, for four months. This was a direct result of witnessing an assault of her mother carried out by her father. The daughter was undergoing counselling but wasn't making much progress.

I witnessed this shy little girl, pick up a toy and throw it towards Truffles, without much encouragement. Truffles ran for the toy and brought it back to be thrown again. The girl ran laughing, enticing Truffles to follow her around, Truffles rolled on her back and licked the girl. Within five minutes the girl screamed with delight “DOGGY MOMMY!!!”. The girls mother immediately burst into tears at the sound of her daughters voice, a sound that she had longed to hear for months. Within those first moments with Truffles, more was achieved than in the many hours she had spent with therapists.

I returned with Truffles a couple of weeks later, and the family were still there. Immediately the girl started to play with Truffles and walk her around on her lead. They sat together on the grass and Truffles, much to her delight, got a tummy stroke, within moments, the girl could be heard talking quietly to Truffles. I nor her mother could hear what she was saying and her mother confirmed that the girl had not spoken since the last time she met Truffles. Mum tried to approach, however when she got too close, the girl would stop talking and move away, taking Truffles with her, then continue her conversation with the dog at a distance.

Upon my third visit, I was greeted by a very excited mother. She informed me that since my previous visit, the girl had started to talk every now and then and speak about Truffles, wondering what Truffles was doing when she wasn’t there! Again, this visit was a success, the girl laughed and played with Truffles, and for those moments she became a carefree child again.

Mum had migrated to the country from East Africa and told me that in her culture, she was taught that dogs are considered “dirty” or “impure”, however Truffles had made such a positive impact on her, that once the family were settled into a new home, a dog would be a welcomed new addition to the family.

Well done Truffles.