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National OK9 network: South West and Wales

Say ‘hello’ to the OK9 wellbeing and trauma support dogs and their handlers in police forces in the South West and Wales.

These dogs are all members of the national OK9 wellbeing and trauma support dog network and are able to attend the aftermath of a major incident to support those affected by trauma. They also get the opportunity to attend national events and to support our wellbeing outreach service. 

Chalkie

OK9 wellbeing dog Chalkie the Golden Labrador looking at the camera

 

  • Breed: Golden Labrador
  • Likes: Food, water - he loves a swim
  • Favourite toy: Sally a cuddly dog
  • Favourite food: Anything

Chalkie's handler is Jacquita Mead – HR business partner and health and wellbeing lead for the force.

Jacquita said: "Introducing OK9 to the force has been very exciting and met with enthusiasm by our staff and officers. Our pilot using the OK van visits was very successful and we expect to be able to offer OK9 visits across the force soon. I am very proud to be part of this initiative and it is a privilege to see the joy our dogs make to someone’s day."

Cooper

Cooper looking at the camera wearing his OK9 wellbeing dog jacket

 

  • Breed: Labrador
  • Likes: Sticks (the bigger the better), tennis balls, cuddles, walks, food
  • Favourite toy: Anything that he can pull the stuffing out of
  • Character / traits: Very laid-back dog whose tail does not stop wagging - always bumps your hand with his head if he’s not getting enough fuss
  • Favourite food: Cheese - but also partial to a raw hide chew that he can bury in the garden

Cooper's handler is Zoe Slater-Peters and she works in organisational development. Zoe said: "Cooper has been supporting me on site visits in Avon and Somerset. He adores people and being made a fuss of. I’ve found that Cooper is a great icebreaker. In fact, I tend to get ignored for the dog at first and Cooper gets to make the introductions.

"Cooper supports in making a person feel more comfortable to talk to me about a difficult situation and even makes them feel better by just having a cuddle with him and taking some time out."

Dax

  • Breed: Cocker Spaniel
  • Likes: Chasing balls, treats, and cuddles
  • Favourite toy: Blue and red tough ball
  • Character / traits: Very loving, gentle, and friendly
  • Favourite food: Sausages

Leigh Hext has been a police officer for 32 years and 28 of those have been as dog handler. Leigh said: "I currently handle Dax who is a drugs, cash, and firearms recovery search dog alongside his new role as a wellbeing dog. I also handle police dog Holly who is a wellbeing dog. Her day job is searching for explosives. Both my dogs live together and are best buddies.

"I have attended several wellbeing deployments with the dogs and have been pleasantly surprised by the tremendous reception Dax and Holly have had. The dogs are able to make connections on another level and have already been a big hit in our force area."

Nelly

OK9 wellbeing dog Nelly looking at the camera

 

  • Breed: Schnauzer
  • Likes: Playing football
  • Favourite toy: Duckie and chicken
  • Character / traits: Friendly and fun
  • Favourite food: Quite likes sardines

Mandy James is Nelly's handler. Mandy said: "I have worked for Avon and Somerset Police for over 30 years and most of that time in the fingerprint bureau as a fingerprint expert and identification manager. 

"Nelly isn’t my dog but my neighbour's dog who I get to borrow and take out for walks whenever I can. I trained to be a mental health first aider and when we were asked if we had a dog and would be interested in becoming an OK9 handler I immediately thought of Nelly and knew she would be perfect. On her assessment day, I was like a proud mum.

"We have been to a few OK9 wellbeing dates in force with the OK9 van and Nelly was a big hit and definitely helped to get people over for a chat and cuddle. Nelly and I are very keen to get out and about and spread the good feeling that she can bring to someone's day. I have loved the opportunity to meet others and offer support and a listening ear to anyone who needs it via the OK9 and MHFA initiative."

Norman

OK9 wellbeing dog Norman sitting looking at the camera

 

  • Breed: Pomeranian and Japanese Spitz cross
  • Likes: Dogs, people, and life in general
  • Favourite toy: My hair scrunchies
  • Character / traits: Happy-go-lucky chappy
  • Favourite food: Red pepper and lots of treats

"My name is Emily, I am a special constable. Norman is my OK9 dog and he is so friendly, he just soaks up the attention everywhere we go. He comes with me everywhere and it's true what they say, a dog really is a man’s best friend."

Woody

Woody the Sprocker Spaniel wearing his OK9 wellbeing dog jacket

 

  • Breed: Sprocker Spaniel
  • Likes: Walks, water, balls, and cuddles
  • Favourite toy: A ball or his squeaky banana
  • Character / traits: Energetic, cheeky, and loving
  • Favourite food: Sausages and cheese

Woody's handler Natalie Perrett has been an officer with A&S for six years, since getting injured on duty, she has been working with the intelligence department.

Natalie said: "Woody has been a great companion since my injury so I decided to volunteer to be an OK9 handler. I completed a peer support course as I want to help and support others who may be struggling. Policing is a tough job and I think it’s very important to look out for each other.

"Woody is a two-year-old Sprocker, he is a fun and loving dog who loves making new friends. In the short time, he has been an OK9 dog he has already made a huge impact on the staff and officers he has had contact with and is regularly requested to visit local stations."

Bertie

OK9 wellbeing dog Bertie sitting on the floor looking at the camera

 

  • Breed: Cockapoo
  • Likes: He loves to walk, swim and dive, and play fetch 
  • Favourite toy: A tennis ball
  • Character/ traits: Will do anything for a snack or tennis ball - he will give his paw, sit, and lie down using hand signals

Bertie's handler is Nathan Walker, the community safety sergeant for North and West Devon. Nathan and his team have responsibilities in child-centred policing, ASB, mental health, crime prevention, and engagement. He is a peer supporter, and is currently working on increasing awareness of trauma-informed policing.

Nathan said: "Bertie is my brown Cockapoo. He is six years old and is my pet and my wellbeing dog. Bertie is a former Pets As Therapy dog and has previously worked in the mental health services and schools providing welfare visits to adults and young people. Bertie is a happy ball of curls who would love to meet you. We can meet you in the office, outside, or go for a lunchtime walk."

Darcy

Darcy wearing her OK9 wellbeing dog jacket looking at the camera

 

  • Breed: Working Cocker Spaniel
  • Likes: Chasing her ball, searching, and belly rubs
  • Favourite toy: Loves them all, especially piggy or teddy
  • Character / traits: Loves and hides socks, loves people and other dogs
  • Favourite food: Scrambled egg, carrots, and apple

PC Cathy Veale has been an operational officer for 14 years and a wellbeing practitioner since July 2020. Cathy is an advanced TRiM practitioner and team leader, a peer supporter and mental health first aider. She has personal experience of bereavement by suicide and raises awareness around the force with her own journey to break down mental health stigma and to inspire others to seek help when struggling.

Cathy said: "We have undertaken hundreds of engagements from station visits, major incidents, TRiM assessments, walk and talks, briefings, wellbeing inputs and major events such as G7 where we have opened difficult conversations, boosted morale, instigated smiles, and helped to de-stress our colleagues."

 

Hogan

Hogan the Wire Haired Hungarian Vizsla wearing his OK9 wellbeing dog jacket

 

  • Breed: Wire Haired Hungarian Vizsla
  • Likes: Swimming, tennis balls and fleecy blankets
  • Favourite toy: Tennis balls or his rubber stick
  • Character / traits: He loves people almost as much as he loves snoozing on the sofa
  • Favourite food: Roast chicken and beer

Sandra Rigby is Hogan's handler. Sandra is a PC based in the Weymouth neighbourhood team. She is also the wellbeing lead for Dorset Federation, a mental health first aider, peer supporter and SilverCloud supporter.

Sandra said: "Hogan loves to spend time with his human fans and is always happy to have a cuddle or cheer others up, whether it be in the workplace or out on a walk. He’s a natural teddy bear."

Lexie

Lexie in her OK9 wellbeing dog jacket looking at the camera

 

  • Breed: Collie and Jack Russell cross
  • Likes: Being petted and especially having her head stroked and sitting on people’s laps if invited
  • Favourite toy: Two old socks
  • Character / traits: A little softie who endears herself quickly to anyone she meets
  • Favourite food: A Yakers dog chew

Michael Barrett Rogers is a police chaplain with the Devon, Cornwall and Dorset Police Alliance in South Devon. 

Michael said: "To be able to support our officers and staff as a police chaplain is wonderful. To take Lexie along to the station as well has added a lovely extra dimension to my role. She is an additional ‘ice-breaker’ and has such a relaxing and soothing personality, that it means everyone benefits from her delightful presence."

Merlin

Cockapoo Merlin looking at the camera

 

  • Breed: F1b Cookapoo
  • Likes: Playing ball, searching for treats, running, and cuddles in the evening after a busy day
  • Favourite toy: His tennis ball, and at night having his Teddy which he has had from a puppy
  • Character / traits: He is really loving, loyal, can find a tennis ball wherever he goes, and seems to pick up when people are not themselves
  • Favourite food: Cheese, vegetables, apples, and doggy chocs

PC Sam Hill has been a response officer for 16 years and a professional development officer within the learning and development unit since April 2020.

Sam is an advanced TRiM practitioner and team leader in West Cornwall. Sam understands the importance of looking out for colleagues, as there is still stigma in relation to opening up, about how officers are coping / feeling after traumatic incidents. "We need to get the message out that it is good to talk, a problem shared is a problem halved."

Mouse

Rough-coated Jack Russell Mouse wearing her OK9 wellbeing dog jacket

 

  • Breed: Rough-coated Jack Russell
  • Likes: Walks, playing, and meeting people
  • Favourite toy: A toy stoat with a very loud squeak
  • Character / traits: Friendly, curious, empathetic
  • Favourite food: Cheese

Mouse is looked after by Marisa Cockfield, force chaplain at Bideford in North Devon and Team Vicar in the Bideford and four villages mission community.  

Marisa said: "I’m trained in Mental Health First Aid and ASIST. Mouse is a joy, patient when we stop and chat, very enthusiastic about her station visits, and always happy to play. It is a privilege to serve officers, staff, and families by supporting them with health and wellbeing."

Murphy

OK9 dog Murphy the English Springer Spaniel sitting in the garden

 

  • Breed: English Springer Spaniel
  • Likes: Running and playing in water, especially if it's muddy
  • Favourite toy: Any ball or toy that can be retrieved
  • Character / traits: Very energetic, loves running and playing fetch
  • Favourite food: Doggie peanut butter, and Bonios

Murphy's handler is PC Nadine Wilson who works in the IRC, covering Exeter, East and Mid, but works from an office in Okehampton. Nadine is passionate about health and wellbeing and has recently qualified as a gym instructor, and in health, food and nutrition. 

Nadine said: "Murphy loves to go for runs, walks with us and he loves swimming in the river with my daughter. He is ball crazy and will play fetch ALL day long, dropping the ball at your feet so that you don’t have to move to throw it.

"He has also learnt how to amuse himself with his ball by sitting at the top of a slope in my garden, allowing the ball to roll down it and then retrieving it and then rolls it down the slope again. He loves people and would love to meet you. We can meet you in the office, outside or go for a walk."

Rocky

OK9 wellbeing dog Rocky sitting in a leather chair

 

  • Breed: German Shephard and Collie cross
  • Likes: Water, ball, scent games, cuddles
  • Favourite toy: Birdy and Mr Crocodile
  • Character / traits: Loves to lean against you for a cuddle, carries my shoes.
  • Favourite food: Fish, Carnilove, sausages

Rocky's handler is Jenny Michell. She is a PCSO based in Cornwall. Jenny said: "I love being a OK9 handler. The joy that falls across people's faces when they see Rocky is overwhelming. Dogs are the best listeners, the greatest keeper of secrets and the most effective therapy we can get.

"When I needed a hand, I found a paw. I rescued Rocky when he was 10 weeks old. Rocky is a cheeky, playful boy, he makes me laugh every day. He has his own Facebook page where he shares his adventures.

"We spend our time volunteering with the charity Canine Concerns visiting establishments helping people with dementia. We enjoy fun dog shows and mantrailing through scent work. He has many tricks, he can carry out CPR."

Spud

Spud the Golden Retriever wearing an OK9 wellbeing jacket

 

  • Breed: Golden Retriever
  • Likes: Running, tug games, food, fun, swimming and music
  • Favourite toy: Tug, flirt pole or frisbie
  • Character / traits: Loving, energetic, happy and a reliable friend
  • Favourite food: Pancetta and garlic sausage

Chris Fryer is Spud's handler and has 32 years serving Dorset Police as a PD sergeant, radio dispatcher, and currently as a detention officer.

Chris said: "I still hold a huge interest in dog training and also a strong belief in the welfare of all my police colleagues. Being an OK9 handler is hugely rewarding.

"Spud and I have received huge amounts of positive feedback from those we have met. It takes me back to my time on the dog section, where I was lucky enough to travel the length and breadth of Dorset helping my colleagues and the public."

Carter

Carter the Belgian Malinois lying on grass wearing his OK9 wellbeing dog jacket

 

  • Breed: Belgian Malinois
  • Likes: Making sure he says 'hello' to everyone
  • Favourite toy: A tennis ball
  • Character / traits: Very loving and has to share his love with everyone when he’s in work or just out and about
  • Favourite food: Any meat

Carter's handler is Kaylee Noble. Kaylee said: "I am the wellbeing dog outreach officer at South Wales Police and I cover both South Wales and Gwent with my wellbeing dogs Winnie and Carter.

"We are out daily in stations and communities across South Wales and Gwent, sharing the message of taking time out for wellbeing and giving everyone the amazing opportunity to meet the dogs and experience the difference they can make."

Winnie

Cocker Spaniel Winnie wearing her OK9 wellbeing dog jacket

 

  • Breed: Cocker Spaniel
  • Likes: Food
  • Favourite toy: Squeaky balls
  • Character / traits: Loves to sit on your lap for a cuddle
  • Favourite food: Anything and everything

Winnie's handler is Kaylee Noble. Kaylee said: "I am the wellbeing dog outreach officer at South Wales Police and I cover both South Wales and Gwent with my wellbeing dogs Winnie and Carter.

"Being an OK9 handler I feel very supported and believe we are all making a difference in our forces. I think we are only touching the surface of what these amazing dogs can do for us."

Nansi

North Wales OK9 dog Nansi sitting on the bonnet of a police car

 

  • Breed: Cockapoo
  • Likes: Cuddles and attention, playing ball
  • Favourite toy: Ellie Bellie a pink elephant
  • Character / traits: Fiercely independent and cheeky
  • Favourite food: Cheese

PS Non Edwards works as a NPT Sgt and brings Nansi into work for every shift.

Non said: "She goes out on patrol with PCSOs and works on community projects and engagements and helps to break down barriers with difficult to reach communities and age groups. She loves working in custody and has made a difference to officers' welfare down in the dungeons when they rarely see daylight during their shift. 

"The impact she makes is huge. She runs in each shift and the parade rooms erupt with greetings for her and everyone is happy to see her. She makes officers pause for a moment and step away from heavy workloads and take five minutes to play or stroke her."

Beau

Beau in his OK9 wellbeing dog jacket with two police officers

 

  • Breed: Poochon (Poodle Bichon cross)
  • Likes: Cuddling everyone
  • Favourite toy: Any teddy
  • Character / traits: Just loves people and will make sure everyone in a room is not left out
  • Favourite food: Chicken and cheese

Karen Kempton is a PCSO for West Mercia working with the safer neighbourhood team in Evesham. Karen is a Mental Health First Aid England trainer for the force and peer supporter and has a Level 3 Diploma in Bereavement and Trauma Counselling and Mindfulness. 

Karen said: "It was such an honour for Beau and I to be chosen for the role of OK9.  Beau likes nothing more than ensuring everyone in the room gets cuddles. He loves to be picked up and sitting on your lap. It just makes me smile to see people smile when he enters a room and the difference he can make to someone’s day."

Marley ('Marls')

  • Breed: Cocker Spaniel
  • Likes: Tennis balls, cheese, tummy rubs, cuddles
  • Favourite toy:  A tennis ball
  • Character / traits: Constant tail wagger, calm, emotionally aware, and needs to be close to his humans
  • Favourite food: Chicken, cheese, and ham

Sgt Pete Frankish is a local policing sergeant with 26 years police service, currently working out of Warndon Police post in Worcester. Pete has several years’ experience in response, public order and front line policing. He is a critical incident de-briefer, blue light peer supporter, mediator with a passion for welfare and wellbeing of staff.

Pete said: "I applied to join the OK9 wellbeing dog scheme with my cocker spaniel Marley to continue and enhance the wellbeing process to help protect our staff from mental health issues and PTSD in the future. 

"Since being accepted as an OK9 dog Marls has been busy with visits to the control room where he brought the place to a standstill, to meeting the safer neighbourhood teams, specials, cadets, response shifts and also joined me on many critical incident de-briefs."

Rapha

West Mercia OK9 dog Rapha sitting on the grass with the sun set behind him

 

  • Breed: Golden Retriever
  • Likes: Cuddles, fuss, and food
  • Favourite toy: Soft cow he likes to suck like a 'dummy'
  • Character / traits: Calm and loveable, just wants to be fussed
  • Favourite food: Any

Rapha is owned by his handler Kirsti Jackson who has been in the police for 24 years; 21 years in Warwickshire before transferring to West Mercia. Kirsti is a police trainer in the continuous professional development team and enjoys bringing Rapha to work to meet officers/staff across the force.

Kirsti said: "People can not help but smile at Rapha when he walks into a room wagging his tail and smiling at everyone and I just love to see the positive reaction he gets from all."

Toby

Toby looking at the camera wearing his OK9 wellbeing dog jacket

 

  • Breed: Labrador Retriever
  • Likes: Tennis balls, and swimming
  • Favourite toy: Cuddly bear
  • Character / traits: Calm and affectionate
  • Favourite food: Sausages

Toby's handler is Lee. He said: "My day job is a neighbourhood policing inspector. Toby is the most laid-back dog going, he loves meeting people and getting plenty of fuss and attention.

"Toby lifts everyone’s spirits at work and has a massive impact on the effectiveness of critical incident debriefs with colleagues, enabling open discussions about feelings and emotions by being a welcome distraction and creating a relaxing environment. It’s great to be able to do this with him."

Winnie

OK9 dog Winnie

 

  • Breed: Golden Doodle
  • Likes: Squirrels, rabbits, and mole holes
  • Favourite toy: Cuddly Monkey
  • Character / traits: Extremely calm and loves cuddles
  • Favourite food: Cheese

Winnie lives with Detective Sergeant Sharon Wallace-Rathmell who works in the vulnerability and safeguarding team as the domestic abuse lead, she has 24 years’ service.

Sharon said: "My wife Tracey and I decided to handle Winnie jointly to allow more flexibility and availability. Tracey is a detective constable in PVP and has 22 years' service.

"Winnie is a natural therapy dog. She is extremely calming and loves having cuddles. She certainly has made a difference on her visits to our colleagues bringing a smile to their faces and allowing them to take time out from their daily tasks."