Earlier this year, in a first for the charity, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home rehomed a one-year-old Staffordshire Bull Terrier as a working search dog at HMP Six Counties Search Team. Cookie is now training to detect drugs that are prevalent in the prison system and is the first of her breed to hold such an important role in the prison service.
During her 56 days at the animal rescue centre, staff noticed Cookie had exceptional agility skills and noticed she was extremely good at channelling her energy into games and activities.
Jeff Moore, Working Dogs Manager at Battersea, set to work on Cookie’s strengths and started her off on some basic training which was showcased on ITV’s Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs. Some of this training included sniffing out bits of a tennis ball that was hidden in rooms and vehicles – if there was one thing Cookie loved – it was a tennis ball.
Jeff said: “From her first session, Cookie showed great potential, bearing in mind she’d never done this type of sniffer training beforehand, so we were really hopeful that she’d be able to find a working home that would be well suited to her needs. She’s very sociable, clever and a very high energy dog and I knew in the right setting she could channel all that into doing something great.”
Battersea was thrilled when HMP Six Counties Search Dogs decided to take Cookie on and she has been in training at their centre for the past 12 weeks. Head Trainer, Mel Barker, said: “Cookie is currently still in training as it takes months to train up a dog ready for work, but she is doing really well. She has been training in areas that will assist in reaching her potential and will be fully assessed. Hopefully she will continue to develop and become an operational search dog.”
Jeff continued: “Cookie is a prime example of how Staffordshire Bull Terriers shouldn’t be judged on their looks alone. Cookie is smart and loves the mental and physical stimulation of playing search games and the interaction of working with the trainers. We hope that Cookie will pave the way for many other Staffies to become successful search dogs.”