Northamptonshire fire crews set to benefit from the first four-legged recruit in the UK

Olive and handler Mark Foster Credit: Northants Fire & Rescue / BPM Media

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service have welcomed their cutest recruit to date after she was rescued from an illegal puppy farm.

Olive is a three-year-old cocker spaniel, who has just become the first Oscar Kilo 9 accredited fire service well-being and trauma support dog.

Following World Mental Health Day on October 10, Olive has been officially introduced to the fire services.

After being seized by Northamptonshire Police when she was discovered at an illegal puppy farm, her handler and now best friend Mark Foster knew she had the "perfect temperament" to be a well-being dog.

Olive had a difficult start in life, after being kept in poor conditions and suffered ill health as a result, but she is described as "gentle" and "emotionally intelligent" by Mark, and his instincts were right.

"She has high emotional intelligence and enjoys meeting new people, she likes fuss and is very calm within this environment."

Credit: BPM Media

Olive has undergone training at the National Police Wellbeing Service, which has accredited dogs since 2017.

Dogs are renowned for increasing oxytocin and serotonin levels in humans and can contribute to lowering blood pressure.

They are perceptive to different emotions in humans and have an innate ability to recognise anxiety and stress. While some police forces already have well-being dogs, Olive is a first for the fire service nationally.

Phil Robson, Director of Advanced K9 Solutions, said that she will be "a credit" to the team.

"Olive is a natural, she has a lovely temperament and loves being fussed," he said.

"After a hard start in life she will undoubtedly shine in her new career. Mark and Olive will be a credit to the well-being team at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service."

Assistant Chief Fire Officer at Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service, Rob Porter, said: "It’s important that we encourage our staff to talk more openly about mental health, especially those who are operational and attend sometimes harrowing incidents."