My first website article for DogFest 2019 is the proudest I have ever published since becoming a journalist with The Daxington Post. I was so disappointed when at Crufts it was impossible to interview our hero, Fabulous Finn, the Police Dog. But I phoned Finn last week and arranged to meet him and his dad, Dave Wardell and can’t tell you how thrilled I was that our meeting would eventually take place.
I was a bit sad that I had to send rookie reporter, Mum, to do the interview, as Finn is a bit worried if he is too close to other dogs, so a lovely lady from the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) hugged me while Mum was talking to Finn. What follows is Mum’s account of their meeting.
“What a joy it was for The Daxington Post to meet up with Fabulous Finn, Dave Wardell and his family. Before our interview, I watched Dave and Finn talking to a large audience. The first thing that struck me while Dave was addressing a crowd was the unmistakable deep bond shared by Finn and Dave. It’s in their eyes, their body language, and their obvious ease at being together. It is a remarkable relationship, and a moving one at that. Dave has said elsewhere that “He means the world to me. He's like a son.” You can see the closeness of the relationship in this picture… pure unconditional love.
Finn is quite a personality and has received many awards, including the PDSA gold medal for bravery, which is recognised as the George Medal for dogs; Animal Hero Awards ‘Hero Animal of the Year’; International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Animal of the Year; Kennel Club (Crufts’Friend for Life’ award. That is an impressive record, and we believe he should also be given at least a canine knighthood!
Of course, being a family dog, Finn is equally loved by Mum Gemma. When I say family, I mean a big one, including 6 dogs, a cat and a parrot!
I asked Finn how he had adjusted to being a pet pooch, after his exciting Police service. He replied that it had taken a bit of time, but he was pretty well sorted now. Of course, after his years of service, there are times when he hears or sees things that might once have caused him to spring into action. However, he knows he is a retired boy now, and needs to hold back.
Have you seen the video of Finn at the Royal Albert Hall that we published earlier? The orchestra and singers, the crowds, the cheers, must have seemed very strange, but apart from once trying to sing, and then barking his appreciation before leaving the stage you can see that he has got the hang of retirement. Celebrities like Finn know how these things work.
I also wondered how he coped with his fame. From what I saw of him working at DogFest with thousands of people wanting to have a piece of him, I reckon he’s actually quite enjoying it. But I wondered if, like Oscar, he finds it tiring at these big shows.
Fin and I talked about his and Dave’s achievement in getting the law changed to give service dogs greater legal protection. At the time of Finn’s injuries, the law deemed dogs to be just possessions, not living beings. The 16 year old who almost killed Finn was sentenced to just eight months in prison for assaulting Dave, but nothing for injuring Finn, which was interpreted as criminal damage only!
From 4th June, theAnimal Welfare (Service Animals) Bill, also known as Finn's Law, makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to a service animal, and carries longer sentences.
But that is not all! Having campaigned and won justice for service animals Finn is now campaigning for greater sentences for pet dog injuries and abuse. Hopefully, the currant six months imprisonment for dog abusers is likely to increase to five years."
I have been speaking to Finn today, and promised that this newspaper will support his campaign in any way possible, something I know that our readers will also be keen to do. For more information as we get it, watch this space!
Mum felt so privileged to meet Finn, Dave and wife Gemma in person, and we are publishing all the pictures she took. Mum hopes Dave was not offended when she was talking to him at the same time as taking a close up mug shot of Finn. I hope he will agree it is a great picture.
Of course, Mum was thrilled to be able to stroke this lovely boy, who seemed to enjoy it. As a Police Dog he was brave and fearless, trained to catch crooks, but in retirement is equally willing to be in the company of humans who love and admire him. And we all do, don’t we?
Finally, let me mention Finn’s book, Fabulous Finn, which is now on sale at a number of book stores or online. Guess what? Mum forgot to get one at the show, so we have ordered ours online direct from Finn. Can’t wait for it to arrive, as I know it will become my favoite canine bedtime story.
14th May 2019