The Canine’s Calling
Gavel the German Shepherd was once set for life in the police force. But when the canine was fired from the academy for being too friendly, he landed a brand-new job with His Excellency the Governor of Queensland, Australia, as well as an impressive title: Vice-Regal Dog.
Gavel’s role, which he’s held since 2017, includes greeting guests and tour groups at Brisbane’s Government House and attending important functions. According to Governor Paul de Jersey, house tours are the highlight of the dog’s job, as he enjoys interacting with strangers – precisely the reason that he was dropped from the police. Authorities felt that he “did not display the necessary aptitude for a life on the front line.”
Along with Gavel’s new position, he gets to wear a flashy uniform. The German Shepherd sports a bespoke coat that’s decorated with the governor’s flag, the state’s official bird emblem and a picture of a crown. Since his first day at Government House, Gavel has grown too big for at least four of these jackets. And when he’s not wearing his custom-made coat, Gavel likes to show his support for the Queensland rugby team by sporting its maroon scarf.
By all accounts, Gavel seems to be a big hit at Government House. In June 2017 Governor de Jersey told the BBC that the German Shepherd had “brought untold joy to the lives of the governor, Mrs de Jersey, Government House staff and the thousands of Queenslanders who have since visited the estate.”
Gavel has won over the internet, too. The Governor’s Instagram posts featuring the Vice-Regal dog receive significantly higher numbers of likes than most of his other photos.
Gavel may have never found his calling as Vice-Regal pooch had he not come up short in law enforcement. In 2016 he entered Queensland’s dog police academy alongside around 40 other foster puppies with the aim of helping to track down criminals.
At first, the Queensland police had a lot of faith in Gavel, who was just ten weeks old. “He is confident with no nervous tendencies and shows a willingness to retrieve, prey drive [and] ball drive, and [he] can be motivated by food for a reward,” Sergeant Dean Hansen said of the young dog.
But Gavel didn’t quite make the cut when it came to fighting crime. In February 2017 – just ten months into what should have been a 16-month course – the pup was dropped from the training program. Apparently, he was too nice and liked to make new friends rather than catch bad guys.
However, Gavel quickly found a new career path thanks to Governor de Jersey, who had been fostering the over-friendly pooch. It turns out that he was much better suited to a life in politics than the police.
Now, Gavel has been Vice-Regal Dog – a position that was created especially for him – for over two years. In February 2019 the governor commemorated the second anniversary of Gavel’s first day at Government House with an adorable picture of the pooch sitting beside his old police jacket.
Other sweet snaps show Gavel celebrating his 21st birthday – or third in human years – greeting guests and going for walks with Governor de Jersey. “We hope Gavel’s with us for a long, long time into the future,” de Jersey told 7 News Brisbane.
From police dropout to Vice-Regal Dog, Gavel has come a long way, and his story is proof that being nice doesn’t always mean you finish last.