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How long do OpK9 dogs work?

Although there is no defined retirement age for an OpK9 dog, obviously they can’t perform their role forever. Generally, OpK9 dogs will work until they’re 10 years old. But after years of being by their veteran’s side and performing the tasks they’ve been trained for, there comes a time when they slow down and show less motivation.

Because of the importance of their work, we can’t take the chance that they won’t respond at a time that their veteran needs them.

From the age of eight, OpK9 dogs are checked by a veterinarian and their RSB Dog Instructor more regularly, to ensure their health and skills are at a standard that allows them to continue working.

As they get older, the checks become more frequent, until it is obvious the time has come for retirement. The RSB makes the call in the best interests of the veteran and the dog. Having been inseparable for so long, it can be an incredibly emotional time.

Every veteran experiences PTS differently. When their OpK9 dog retires, some want a new dog to continue providing the support they need, while others feel they have reached a point where they no longer need an OpK9 dog. Every case is individual, and the veteran makes the call that best suits them.

Where a veteran wants to transition to another dog, they may be able to keep their previous dog as family pet. If circumstances are difficult, such as if work and no family support would mean that the older dog would spend too much time alone, another family member may be able to provide a home so that it is still part of the extended family. If this isn’t an option, the RSB volunteers who raised the dog have the opportunity to adopt it. If this is also not successful, the RSB has long list of people whose suitability has been checked, who are waiting for one of these well-behaved older dogs.

The RSB attempts to make the transition to a new OpK9 dog as seamless as possible so that the veteran isn’t without a working dog for any period. Wherever possible, matching and training with a new dog are timed so that as one retires, the new one takes on the job.

If a veteran decides they have reached a point where they don’t require a new dog, the process is the same. The majority choose to keep their faithful friend as a pet, but if circumstances are like those described above, the same process for re-homing is undertaken.

As always, the needs of the veteran and the dog are paramount.

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