‘Millie is a real conversation starter’
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Welcome to the third installment of our monthly features on the force’s talented police dogs. On this occasion we are stepping off the beat to meet therapy dog Millie.
While she may be small, Staffordshire Police’s therapy dog Millie certainly has a big presence when it comes to helping staff and officers feeling under pressure or stressed.
The 21-month-old Cavapoo – a cross between a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Toy Poodle – is quickly becoming a hit wherever she goes within the force as owner Michelle Moores is happy to take a backseat while Millie does her work.
Michelle, who is the force’s welfare manager, says Millie is adept at identifying people who are feeling stressed and can also help to start up conversations over wellbeing in the workplace. She said: “I bought her with the intention of her being a therapy dog – and she is still going through the training to do that.
For now, though she is the force’s wellbeing dog and does a really good job!
“I will take her with me to places, take a seat, and just let people fuss and pet her. Having a dog around can be a great stress reliever and you can see how staff and officers respond when she is there.”
But Millie can also help spot people who may need to talk to Michelle. Michelle, who is also a counsellor with not only the force but the Stafford-based Katharine House Hospice, said: “Sometimes she will just go and sit with someone who she thinks is stressed or upset. And when I go over the conversation will first start about Millie before they open up to me. She is really good at getting conversations started! If I just turn up people don’t always want to talk to me but having Millie puts people at ease.
“I recently took her out to a station and from conversations about her I picked up cases of some officers who were stressed and needed some help and support.”
In the future, Michelle is hoping that Millie can spend time in different departments without her owner. She said: “Eventually, when she has had some more obedience training, I will be leaving Millie in different departments – only for a short time. Just to help relieve stress and support people.”
When Millie isn’t networking among Staffordshire Police officers she enjoys spending time with housemate Axel – a bulky 10-year-old German Shepherd.
Michelle said: “Axel is a rescue dog and she loves to play tug-of-war with him or just cuddle up – they do look cute together!
“My role is to support with wellbeing and mental health. Having Millie can inspire people who wouldn’t normally talk about any issues to do so and so she’s a great member of our team.”
Age: 21 months
Strengths: Recognising when someone is stressed
Favourite toy: Peppa Pig toy
Favourite hobby: Playing tug-of-war with German Shepherd, Axel