Guide dog puppy Finn named after 'hero' police dog

image source, Dave Wardell
image captionGuide dog puppy Finn (l) was born in the West Midlands and has been named after now-retired police dog Finn (r)

A guide dog puppy has a lot to live up to after being named in honour of a police dog almost killed while protecting his handler.

German shepherd Finn and PC Dave Wardell were stabbed in Stevenage.

During his recovery the officer raised £5,000 to name and sponsor a guide dog.

Six-week-old Finn - also a German shepherd - is now officially in training for the charity Guide Dogs. "The breed is the Rolls Royce of guide dogs," said PC Wardell.

Finn almost lost his life when a 16-year-old boy stabbed him through the chest and head during a pursuit in the Hertfordshire town last October.

As the pair recovered, PC Wardell started campaigning for tougher laws for attacks on police animals and raised money for a number of causes.

One of these was Guide Dogs, which provides support animals for blind and partially-sighted people.

image source, Helen Burchell
image captionPuppy Finn will spend the first year of his life with a volunteer puppy walker
image source, Dave Wardell
image captionFinn is one of 10 pups born in Dudley in the West Midlands

"It costs around £52,250 to train and support a guide dog partnership but £5,000 would pay for the puppy's first year of training and support," PC Wardell said.

"It would mean so much to me, and my entire family if Finn's horrible experience can act as a springboard to support someone, in the community PD Finn has protected so well, to deal with sight loss or total blindness."

The money was quickly raised, "but we wanted a German shepherd, they are apparently the Rolls Royce of guide dogs, but there aren't many of them", he said.

"Hence it's taken a while for a litter."

Guide dog pup Finn is one of 10 born in Dudley in the West Midlands.

image source, Herts Police/Dave Wardell
image captionPC Dave Wardell and Finn worked together for eight years

All will be fostered by "puppy walkers" for a year to learn social skills and basic obedience.

Finn will be looked after by a walker in Hemel Hempstead.

After that he will attend a specialist training school for six months.

The majority - 94% - of guide dogs provided by the charity are Labradors or retrievers, with only 4% being German shepherds, but they are "incredibly loyal and intelligent dogs and well suited for working careers", the charity said.

Finn went back on duty at Christmas and retired in March.

image captionFinn retired at the end of March and took his first seaside holiday

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