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The end of an era: Merlot the Regina police dog retires after 8 years of service

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A long serving member of the Regina Police Service is retiring.

Merlot the facility dog is stepping away from the majority of her duties after eight years of helping children and vulnerable people through traumatic experiences.

“Her job was really just bringing that calming presence to individuals who have to come in and talk about traumatic incidents,” Sgt. Tia Froh, who has been Merlot’s handler throughout her career, said.

“I would do the interview, Merlot would sit on the couch beside the individual that was being interviewed, and just help relax them. Then we would follow them through the judicial process.”

Merlot turned 10 in January. Last year, Froh started to notice some changes in Merlot that ultimately led to the canine’s retirement.

“She was having some health issues so that started me looking into things a little bit more,” Froh said.

“I just started seeing that she wasn’t engaged as much as she had been in the past, difficulty taking on that stress and just the ways that Merlot would present would tell me that the stress was becoming too much.”

Retirement was the best decision for Merlot and her health.

Those who got to observe Merlot’s work over the years say she was a tremendous help for the hundreds of people she assisted.

“Watching how the kids would respond to Merlot and see how their anxiety would be reduced, and you could just see that their stress was lowered when Merlot was there,” Dr. Danielle DeSorcy, clinical psychologist of policing for investigative services, said.

Merlot’s effect went beyond those being interviewed - she was also an asset to members of the Regina Police Service.

“Merlot’s always there. She comes and gives us licks and hugs and it just always makes such a happy and stress free environment,” Dr. DeSorcy said.

“When she comes and visits the main station, she walks in with her tail is wagging, she runs into our offices and we all just kind of [feel relief] and say, ‘There’s Merlot!’ We wish she was here all the time.”

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Sgt. Froh now plans to adopt Merlot. Although the facility dog is retiring in an official capacity, she’ll still be around from time to time.

“We could still use her within the area that I’m in now if there are certain circumstances that we think that someone would benefit from her. She might pop in and make some guest appearances,” Froh said.

For the most part, Merlot will now spend her days with the people she loves most, doing what she loves most.

“She loves to exercise, she loves to swim and she loves food,” Froh said.

“So just some naps and relaxing and not having to stress anymore.”

Sgt. Froh said the Regina Police Service has another handler who has been chosen to get a new dog to take over Merlot’s duties. That handler will now wait until a dog match comes through.

“When that happens, RPS and myself will announce that when the dog arrives,” Froh said.

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