In April 2016 the Queensland Police issued a press release about an up-and-coming police pup called Gavel. “In 16 months Gavel will be tracking and catching criminals as a proud member of the Queensland Dog Squad!” the statement proclaimed. But Gavel never made it to the end of his cop training and potentially faced a life of unemployment. So where did it all go wrong?
Gavel was just ten weeks old when he started out as a police trainee in Queensland, Australia. Mind you, it seemed as if the German Shepherd was destined to be part of the force. After all, the pooch had at least five other family members who were already protecting and serving across the country.
Indeed, it was seemingly for this reason – coupled with Gavel’s temperament – that Queensland police had a lot of faith in the young pup. “He is confident, with no nervous tendencies and shows a willingness to retrieve, a prey drive, ball drive and can be motivated by food for a reward,” said Sergeant Hansen of the Queensland force in the April 2016 press release.
Still, even though Gavel had the right characteristics to make a good police dog, he still had a lot to learn. First off would be the obedience and socialization phases of training, and this would be followed by plenty of tests. More role-specific training would doubtless then be completed, depending on which job Gavel would be assigned.
And while Gavel was being put through his paces at police school, he had also found himself an unprecedented foster home. In fact, the lucky pup had been taken in by the Governor of Queensland, Paul de Jersey. This meant that the little German Shephers had the 40 acres of Government House – the governor’s official residence – in which to make himself comfortable for a year.
So, in between learning the duties of a tough police officer, Gavel would spend his time in conferences alongside the governor and greeting his many guests. As it turned out, the pup seemed particularly well suited to his role at Government House. This was especially fortunate – given how events unfolded in his cop career.
Yes, Gavel didn’t quite cut the mustard when it came to fighting crime. So what was the problem? According to a statement released by the Governor of Queensland, “Gavel did not display the necessary aptitude for a life on the front line.”
This news came about in February 2017 – just ten months into what should have been a 16-month training course for Gavel. The German Shepherd likely wasn’t on his own, however, as not every pup can make it in the cutthroat world of law enforcement.
But don’t feel too bad for Gavel. After all, it’s not like the seemingly over friendly pooch was in danger of living a life on the streets. On the contrary, his time at Government House had put him on the fast track to a swish new career.
Gavel even got a title to go with his new role. That’s right, on February 21, 2017, Gavel became the first-ever Vice-Regal Dog at Queensland’s Government House. While details of his salary were kept firmly under wraps, the important pooch did receive a clear set of responsibilities.
Among other things, Gavel’s duties include greeting tour groups and receiving guests to the house as well as being present for functions and official events. In fact, the friendly pooch’s very first job in his new role involved welcoming two dozen people to a Citizenship Ceremony.
Along with Gavel’s new position, the German Shepherd also got some new threads. According to a Governor of Queensland’s press release, the lucky dog is kitted out in “a specially-made Government House coat, emblazoned with the Governor’s Personal Standard, the St Edward’s Crown and the brolga, the official bird emblem of Queensland.”
And by all accounts, Gavel has been doing a bang-up job so far. Indeed, the BBC quoted the governor’s office as saying in June 2017 that Gavel 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 is still taking his duties seriously today, too. In a Governor of Queensland Instagram post in April 2018, the caption informed readers that house tours are seemingly the highlight of his job, as the sociable canine enjoys greeting strangers and posing in his bespoke coat.
Governor de Jersey has also gone on the record about his love for the German Shepherd. “We hope Gavel’s with us for a long, long time into the future,” he reportedly told 7 News Brisbane. Perhaps, then, the governor will get exactly what he wished for.
It seems safe to say, too, that the public would be pleased to see Gavel continue as Vice-Regal Dog for as long as possible. Certainly, each time Gavel appears on the governor’s Instagram page, the posts receive a significantly higher number of likes than most of the other photos.
Plus, the comments are similarly gushing. “Oh Gavel, you are just so adorable,” one commenter wrote, seeming to sum up many people’s feelings. “If I were to go to Queensland, I would go on a tour just to meet [him]!” wrote another.
So what else is there to say about this successful dropout? Well, since his first days at Government House, Gavel has so far outgrown at least four of his coats. And if you’re wondering what sports the popular pooch prefers, you’ll be unsurprised to learn that he’s apparently a fan of Queensland’s own “Maroons” rugby side.
Inevitably, then, Gavel’s story made headlines all around the world. Indeed, sites such as BuzzFeed and Mashable reveled in Gavel’s personality, and even CNN and Time magazine got in on the act as well. It just goes to show that being nice doesn’t always mean that you finish last.
So while the police trainers clearly didn’t believe that Gavel possessed the right attributes – such as power, aggressiveness and a sharpness of mind – for police work, the pooch has managed to make the most of his situation. It’s fair to say, too, that the German Shepherd is still working to make the world a better place for the public.