Working in public safety is stressful and sometimes traumatic.
As Assistant Vice President for Public Safety, Chief of Police Shanon Anderson is charged with the public safety of more than 30,000 students and faculty at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. Her team copes with everything from crowd control to crime and medical emergencies. To increase wellness, Anderson decided to seek a canine companion for the team.
When Anderson met Cedar, she knew immediately he was the right dog for them. Cedar had recently career changed from Dogs for Better Lives. He was not suited for life as a Service Dog, but he ended up being a perfect fit for the program at Working Dogs Oregon, an organization that trains therapy dogs for law enforcement and veterans. He spent six weeks training to respond to emergency situations and to gain comfort around sirens, crowds and tense situations.
Now Cedar lives at the OSU station house full-time, except for weekend breaks with Anderson. The team created a chore board to ensure that Cedar gets his meals, walks, baths and grooming. All staff members get to help. There is always someone to play fetch with Cedar.
“Cedar greets everyone when they arrive,” Anderson says. “They put their bags down, pet him and smile. Cedar just listens and never lectures; he doesn’t try to solve all their problems. He’s the perfect friend. The staff says that having him here is one of the most amazing things they’ve ever experienced on the job.”
Though Cedar is not task trained, he has been an asset in several situations when comforting was crucial. “He has these eyes that are so welcoming,” Anderson says. “He will lay his head in your hand. You can tell that he trusts you, and you can feel the warm energy from him.” Cedar visits the campus library during the exam weeks for any students who need some dog time. The interactions help break the ice with students and safety officers.
“I look at the joy Cedar brings, and it’s very eyeopening to see how service dogs improve the quality of people’s lives,” Anderson says. “Cedar has made a difference in so many lives already.”
Learn more about our dogs at dogsforbetterlives.org/dogs