A RETIRED police dog that saved a man from taking his own life has been shortlisted for a top award.

Belgian Shepherd Fiji has been nominated for a commendation in the Autarky Hardest Working Dogs awards for her incredible service to Surrey and Sussex Police.

The faithful pooch has been put forward for the award by the Thin Blue Paw Foundation, a charity which protects and rehabilitates serving and retired police dogs.

She is one of four dogs shortlisted in the service dogs category.

Claire Bird, who was paired with Fiji at Sussex Police, said she hopes her companion will get the recognition she deserves.

She said: said: “Fiji is the most incredible dog and has helped so many people during her career as a police dog.

“While her career sadly ended early, I think she deserves recognition for the work she did and I hope the people of Sussex and Surrey will get behind her and vote.”

Fiji joined the force when she was just four months old having been rescued when her owner took his own life.

She was placed with operational dog handler Claire Bird who had just returned from maternity leave.

After spending just a few months in the job, Fiji received a commendation after she helped to locate a vulnerable missing person.

Claire said: “An emergency call came in for a high risk missing person and there were concerns he may have been suicidal.

“Within just a few hours, thanks to Fiji’s amazing nose and her training, we located him. He was unconscious but alive.

"Fiji had saved his life.”

Fiji retired from service after she pulled the ligaments in her leg jumping for a toy.

She now lives in Claire and her family in West Sussex alongside Claire’s replacement police dog, Eva.

As she got older, Fiji started to get itchy and vets prescribed her with a special injection to be administered every six weeks, costing £140.

As an ex-working dog, Fiji could not be insured, so the Thin Blue Paw foundation agreed to pay for every injection for the rest of her life.

Claire said: “The Thin Blue Paw Foundation is amazing. Having had police dogs injured at work before and having always kept my working dogs when they retire, it’s great that Fiji can be looked after with the support of Thin Blue Paw.

“If she needs any medical help the charity will always be there to help.

“I am so grateful that the organisation can cover the costs of Fiji’s regular injections helping her to continue being happy in her retirement.”

To vote for Fiji, visit www.autarkyfoods.com/pages/service-dogs-2021.