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New police therapy dog in training

Posted On 06 Aug 2023
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Hank joined Wayne Police Chief Ryan Strong’s family at the end of April 2023.

By Sarah Shurge – In October 2022, the Wayne Police Department’s therapy dog, Zeke, tragically and suddenly passed away after a short battle with cancer. However, the therapy dog program did not end with Zeke.
Zeke inspired therapy dog programs at multiple other police departments, and after taking time to grieve and mourn his loss, the Wayne Police Department is excited to announce that there is a new therapy dog in training.
Hank, a five-month-old Golden Retriever, joined Wayne Police Chief Ryan Strong’s family at the end of April 2023.
“It was tough getting another dog. I still miss Zeke,” said Chief Strong. “But the therapy dog program was so important to the department and to me, I knew we needed a new one. I wanted to get the new process going for the department and the community.”
According to Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD), therapy dogs can reduce stress and anxiety, provide companionship, and help people get through emotionally trying times.
“Police work is difficult. We see a lot of stressful things and people on the worst day of their lives. Having a therapy dog around relieves stress and brightens everyone’s day,” said Chief Strong. “It’s hard to have a bad day when there’s a Golden Retriever walking up to you.”
Therapy dogs must undergo obedience testing, veterinarian certification, and observation from trained testers in various settings, the department said.
Zeke joined the Wayne Police Department in 2019. He received 24 weeks of obedience training before being given an obedience test. After that, he underwent a series of observations by ATD while visiting various public places, such as a hospital and a psychiatric facility. He was also observed at the police department.
ATD provides support to those who use dogs to visit nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and other facilities where a dog could provide comfort to others. “I’m super excited for the training process with Hank,” said Chief Strong. “The first step is socialization. I’ve been bringing him to the station once or twice a week. He’s doing really well. He met the officers and brightens everyone’s day even though he’s not certified yet.”
Hank can’t be certified as a therapy dog until he is one year old, which will be in March. However, Chief Strong stated that everybody is thrilled to have a new dog around.
“We started obedience classes for a few months and then therapy dog certification will be closer towards winter,” said Chief Strong. “He’s doing well in his classes and has a good attention span. Hank is a good dog, he’s just a different kind. Hank is more driven with wanting to learn the training while Zeke was more laid back. It’s been fun.”
Good luck to Hank and his training process!

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