First responders are under an incredible amount of stress. According to The Malinois Foundation, “An estimated 30 percent of first responders develop depression, stress, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health consequences.” First responders include workers in different fields. From firefighters and police, to paramedics, EMS, search and rescue, and more. Enter Massachusetts Comfort Dogs.

According to First Responder Therapy Dogs, these dogs definitely have a calming effect. Their presence helps reduce blood pressure and stress. They also help with improving mood and allowing responders to focus on communities they serve. Also very important is the fact that they will be receiving care themselves. First Responder Therapy Dogs has 120 therapy dog teams serving first responders in 27 states, including Massachusetts.

The Malinois Foundation, First Responders reports some specific ways these dogs help. Benefits include: reducing depression, reducing flashbacks, and reducing suicidal thoughts.

Therapy and comfort dogs are a huge help to first responders. I have also seen them used in many other community spaces. They visit schools, libraries, senior centers, veterans groups, and more. Comfort dogs bring calm and peace wherever they go.

To become a certified first responder therapy dog, both dog and handler go through extensive training. At Paws For Life K9 Rescue,  they “combine the dog’s innate abilities to provide comfort with a stringent training schedule to learn 25 commands. This training process ensures the dog can be safely taken to any scene, and provide comfort, consolation and support regardless of environmental changes.”

Dogs and handlers must be prepared to walk into the most stressful and traumatic situations imaginable. They’ve been sent to locations like the mass shootings in Uvalde, TX, Sandy Hook, the Pulse Nightclub, and more.

Here in Massachusetts, more and more fire, police, and other first responders are getting comfort dogs.  Enjoy!

 

  • Maynard Police Department's Otis

    Meet Otis, Maynard Police Department’s comfort dog. According to the Maynard Police Department website, Otis officially joined the department on February 8th as part of the new Maynard Police comfort dog program. I reached out to the Maynard Police Department and talked to Otis’ handler Allison.

    “I am Otis’s handler, I am the School Resource Officer, Juvenile Detective, and Elder Affairs for the Maynard Police Department. I requested that the department look into getting a comfort dog because of the positive impact comfort dogs have. I got Otis on February 7th 2023 from Puddleduck Labs out of Morrill Maine. I work in the elementary, middle, and high school and Otis comes to each school with me. All of the students and staff love Otis and he is truly so good at his job. Watching children interact with Otis is heart warming. When a child is having a bad day, you would be amazed at how fast he turns it around for them- tears stop in seconds (No exaggeration)! Otis just turned 6 months and is continuing to make a positive impact on everyone he meets. Otis just passed his basic obedience and will continue to learn and train.”

    Comfort Dogs: Picture of Otis, a chocolate lab sitting on the floor with paws out in front of him

    Oh hey Otis!

     

    Dog handler Allison McCann holds up a book reading to a class of children, with chocolate lab Otis near her feet watching on.

    Otis watches on as handler Allison McCann reads a book to a classroom

    Picture of a chocolate lab comfort dog with his handler Allison McCann in uniform showing off the dogs training certificate. There is an American Flag in the background

    Otis poses with his handler Allison McCann after getting certified.

     

  • Sudbury Police Department - Rico

    The Sudbury Police Department has their own special four-legged officer – Rico! Rico is the partner of Sudbury Officer Jessica Latini. Officer Latini is the School Resource Officer, and she and Rico bring lots of comfort and joy to the kids and community.

    Female police officer looking down at her comfort dog, a golden/lab mix.

    Officer Latini and Rico looking like best friends

    Female oficer with long brown hair kneeling with golden lab mix comfort dog Rico

    Officer Latini and Rico

    Female police officer wearing a blue sweatshirt and black leggings, with comfort dog Rico, a golden lab mix, enjoying a day at the beach.

    Officer Latini and Rico hit the beach

  • Taunton Police Department's Maggie

    Maggie joined the Taunton Police Department in May. She’s a 9-week-old golden retriever who came from Golden Opportunities for Independence in Walpole.

    Members of the Taunton Police Department voted on several different names, but Maggie was chosen in honor of the department’s first female officer. In 1943, Margaret Stevens was appointed as the department’s first “policewoman” and went on to become a senior officer before retiring in 1962.

    Maggie is a golden retriever sitting inside a police vest with three Taunton patches on the floor in front of it.

    Taunton Police Department comfort dog Maggie

     

    Comfort Dog: Maggie is a

    Taunton Police comfort dog Maggie gets snuggles

  • Mass State Police - Luna

    Luna is the Mass State Police Department’s first comfort dog. Trooper Chad Tata is Luna’s handler. According to state police, Luna is assigned to the state police’s Employee Assistance Unit, which works with first responders, police and firefighters as part of the department’s post-traumatic stress decompression/healing process.

    Massachusetts Comfort Dog: Picture of a black lab on a green leash, sitting by the legs of a Massachusetts State Police officer.

    Picture of a black lab on a boat toward the back. There's a Mass State Police logo on the side of the boat

    Mass State Police comfort dog Luna enjoys some time out at sea

  • Lowell Fire Department - Chief

    Cutie pie Chief is the comfort dog of the Lowell Fire Department. From their Facebook post announcing Chief last year, the LFD said, “We are committed to breaking the stigma surrounding mental health issues. All of us here at LAFD have taken the Yellow Rose Campaign Pledge and in addition to that commitment we are wanting to utilize our Little Chief to be a comfort dog for first responders. The research is out there and dogs are one emerging complementary treatment option.”

    A golden retriever puppy with their front paws on a rolled up hose from the fire department

    Chief chilling at the fire department

    Golden retriever sits on a Lowell Fire Department engine

    Chief ready for duty

  • Mass General Brigham

    The patients and employees at Mass General Brigham get some special doggie love from the hospital’s comfort dogs.

  • Brockton Police Department's Bonnie

    Bonnie joined the Brockton Police Department last year. She’s a Labrador retriever mix, and was rescued from a kill shelter by Professional Canine Services. She will work in Brockton schools and the peer support unit.

    Picture of black lab Bonnie, the Brockton police comfort dog, wearing a red plaid vest

    Bonnie all dressed up and ready for service

    Back view photo of a Black lab comfort dog wearing a red plaid vest and Brockton Police written on it

    Bonnie taking some quiet time for herself

     

  • Reading Police Department - Cooper and Rusty

    Cooper and Rusty are the comfort dogs of the Reading Police Department. The two were officially sworn in on May 4, 2022.  Officer Matt Vatcher (with golden Rusty) and Officer Brian Lewis (with black lab Cooper) all spend most of their time in Reading Schools, but have also visited the Senior Center and assisted living facilities in Reading.

    Two male police officers each hold one of the two comfort dogs of the department. One is a golden retriever and the other is a black lab

    School Resource Officers Lewis and Vatcher with Cooper and Rusty

    A black lab and golden retriever sit on the floor, both wearing "tux bibs" around their necks

    Cooper and Rusty ready for the Reading High Prom

  • Tufts Medical Center - Bob and Dottie

    Bob became a member of the Tufts Medical Center community back in August of 2020. From Tufts Medical Center: “Funded through a grant from the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation, Bob is the Medical Center’s first full-time, in-residence pet therapy dog. Bob, a four-year-old Goldendoodle, is specially trained to provide comfort and ease anxiety and stress in a hospital setting for our patients, families and employees.”

    Bob was recently joined by Dottie, who came through a generous donation of a private foundation. Dottie is a 17-month-old golden retriever and recent graduate of  Canine Assistants.

    Two golden retrievers with their tongues hanging out, one standing and one sitting on his hind legs

    Dottie and Bob ready to deliver some pawsitive energy

  • Bourne Police Department's Calli

    Calli is the comfort dog of the Bourne Police Department. She was donated from Freedom Labradors and has some very important duties that include: comforting those in need, bringing smiles to everyone around her, and to ease anxiety with students, victims, and others.

    Picture of Calli, a golden retriever puppy wearing a Bourne Police vest.

    What a face!

    A Bourne police officer cradles the department's golden retriever comfort dog.

    So much love in one picture

     

  • Randolph Police Department - Harper

    Harper joined the Randolph Police Department at just 9-weeks-old in March. The English golden retriever, will act as a comfort dog for the community alongside Detective Kristen Gagnon, who will handle her training and care.

    Harper a golden retriever with handler Kristen Gagnon holding up a blue ribbon

    Good job Harper!

    A group of kids surrounds a golden retriever comfort dog where they all pet it

    Harper surrounded by love at Randolph’s National Night Out in 2022.

  • Salem Police Department's Derby

    Derby joined the Salem, MA Police Department in March of 2022. Derby is an English Cream Golden Retriever and works with Patrol Officer Jessica Rondinelli as part of the department’s Community Impact Unit. Derby will assist in situations where children or adults are facing stress, anxiety, or trauma. Or who are having a mental health crisis.

    Derby also spends time making visits to schools, hospitals, nursing homes, senior programs, and making appearances at community events.

    A golden retriever puppy sitting on a table with a leash around their neck

    Baby Derby

    Picture of a golden retriever wearing a police vest with a Salem Police Department patch on it

    Derby ready for duty

  • Newton Police Department - Lucca

    Newton’s comfort dog is Lucca. Lucca’s handler is Officer Brian Oljey, and they are assigned as the School Resource Officer at the Memorial School, as well as the Seacoast Learning Collaborative School. Lucca is currently being trained and certified by Hero Pups.

    Lucca’s name was inspired by a military dog named Lucca. The name means “the bringer of light,” and Lucca served in Iraq and Afghanistan and completed over 400 missions and protected countless soldiers’ lives during her years in service.

    https://www.carriagetownenews.com/community/comfort-dog-joins-newton-police/image_da7a65e6-e9df-11ed-a7c2-63a08c143a90.html

  • Dighton Police Department - Oakie

     

    Dighton police welcome comfort dog Oakie

    The newest member of the Dighton Police Department has four legs and a wet nose. Oakie is the department’s new comfort dog.

  • Littleton Police Department's Rhett

     

     

  • Hingham Police Department - Opry

    Police officer in the drivers seat of a car holding a iced drink from Dunkin. He also holds a smaller cup that a black, tan, and white dog is eating out of.

    Looks like Chief Jones and Opry run on Dunkin!

  • Tufts Police Department - Pepper

    Pepper is the comfort dog of the Tufts Police Department, and serves the Somerville/Medford campus. Tufts teamed with Hero Pups to bring Pepper on board. She’s been with the department since March 2023.

    Black lab sitting and on a leash, looks up expectantly with puppy dog eyes.

    Wouldn’t you give this face anything they wanted?

  • Wilmington Police Department - Zena

    Zena is a Bernedoodle who has been with Wilmington Police since January 2022. Zena and her handler, social worker Samantha Reid, help residents who are struggling with mental health, substance use, behavioral health issues, and other issues.

    A brown, black, tan, and white bernadoodle sitting in a car, wearing a red and green neck harness

    Zena from the Wilmington Police Department

  • Revere Police Department - Charlie

    Charlie is a therapy dog with the Revere Police Department, and and works with his handler, School Resource Officer Bryan Brenes. Charlie is an English Black Lab, who came to the department in April at just 6 weeks old. He’s currently going through training for certification. 

    Picture of a man with a short beard and

    Comfort dog Charlie with handler/School Resource Officer Bryan Brenes

     

Sign me up for the Country 102.5 email newsletter!

Become a VIP member today and get access to exclusive contests, country music news, and be the first to know when your favorite artists release new music and are coming to town!

*
*
By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.