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4 May 2017, 00:00
Tag & Marina
During recent puppy training sessions at police headquarters in Exeter, Canine Development Officer, Paul Glennon, noticed a very special relationship had developed between puppy and child.
Tag is an eight-month old trainee police dog and Marina is the eight-year old daughter of Tag’s puppy walkers, Jo and Gideon.
Paul noticed that Tag displayed an unusual sensitivity and gentleness when interacting with Marina, who was born with congenital limb differences (a physical disability that means her arms and legs didn’t develop properly). Marina has attended every training session with her family and absolutely adores Tag. Paul, said “It was clear to me straight away at our police puppy training days that Tag and Marina were very close.
Tag is an intelligent and calm puppy and adores Marina. He seems to understand her disabilities and limitations and is incredibly gentle with her, which is amazing for a dog of his age. We have high hopes for Tag moving forward to full police dog training when he’s old enough.”
Marina’s Mum, Jo, said: "Marina has had a special relationship with Tag from day one.
"Tag knows when Marina and her brother, Seth, are on their way home from school and waits at the gate to greet them. He also sits and whines at the bottom of the stairs when Marina and her brother go to bed.
“Marina has always loved animals, but her relationship with Tag has improved her confidence.
Marina was born in Russia. Her Mum, Jo - a children’s physiotherapist, met her while she was working for the charity, ThePromise.
The charity works in Russia and neighbouring countries training people in the use of a method known as 'portage', a pre-school education system designed to support the development of children with disabilities.
Jo and Gideon adopted Marina when she was just over two years old.
Marina wears custom sports prosthetics ‘running blades’ on her legs made by Ossur.
Marina was able to obtain her first set of blades following a chance meeting with Paralympian, Richard Whitehead, who arranged for Marina to go to London and have the blades fitted.
The blades enable Marina to run, jump and move around to her heart's content.
She is very sporty and enjoys running, tennis and swimming. Marina would love to join a gymnastics club, but needs to find one that can accommodate her needs.
Mum, Jo, is currently working to create a new charity which will assist other children with limb differences in the UK get access to information and much needed equipment, like blades, which is currently quite a difficult and expensive process.
Marina says she’ll miss Tag when he moves on to the next stage of his training and that next time she has a dog she’d like a smaller breed, so that it can sleep on her bed!