A Perth woman is helping a puppy named after a World War II hero dog prepare for a life helping veterans recover from post traumatic stress disorder.
Three-month-old Labrador Mr Chips has been matched with Sarah Heenan by charity Bravehound.
Despite getting involved in training dogs when she was just 14, Sarah had never owned one of her own.
She and Mr Chips, the youngest socialiser selected by Bravehounds, can now been seen out and about in Perth.
Mr Chips was named after US army dog Chips, who was the most decorated canine of WW2.
Twenty-four-year-old Sarah was offered a job working with dogs after she left school and has never looked back.
As well as teaching two dog classes a week, last year she was a judge at Crufts for the Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Dog Scheme.
And she is delighted to have a new pal in Mr Chips: “Despite my love of dogs, I have never had one of my own.”
“Becoming a puppy socialiser for Bravehound is a great opportunity for me to combine my passion for, and experience of, working with dogs.
“Mr Chips is a great wee character full of life and enthusiasm – he also has a big appetite!
“I’m proud to be giving a temporary home, and to be involved in training, a dog who will play an significant role in the life of someone who has served their country.”
Bravehound provides dogs which play a crucial role in the recovery of men and women traumatised by their experiences during military service.
For the next year Mr Chips will live with Sarah who will teach him basic obedience before he moves on to the more specialist training.
The organisation’s support dogs are trained to cope with all kinds of situations.
As well as, for instance, picking up when someone is in distress and showing immediate affection, they are taught to bring medication and ensure people respect a veteran’s personal space by physically blocking the way if someone comes too close.
For many who cannot leave their home unaccompanied owing to PTSD, the dogs offer a new lease of life, opening up employment opportunities and widening activities and social circles, thus enabling relationships to be established and rebuilt.
Bravehound’s founder Fiona MacDonald told how Mr Chips got his name and said: “At Bravehound we like to name our pups after dogs that have been awarded PDSA Dickin Medals for their bravery during the Second World War.
“Chips and his handler, Private John Rowell, were in a platoon that invaded Sicily in July 1943 and came under fire from an Italian machine gun team. Chips grabbed the barrel of the gun, knocking it off its mount before turning his attention to the team.
“It seemed fitting to name our new Bravehound after such an amazing dog and we’re delighted that he will be learning important basic skills from Sarah, an inspirational young woman.”
Ellen Wong, principal officer at the US Consulate General in Edinburgh, added: “We can’t wait to meet Mr Chips, Bravehound’s latest recruit, named after a heroic US Army dog.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has truly highlighted the value of the companionship provided by animals and I know Mr Chips will go on to be a veteran’s best friend.”