‘He’s all puppy’: Port Huron Police Department welcomes future therapy dog
After a romp in the snow outside Port Huron’s Municipal Office Center, the city police department’s latest team member curled up quietly in the lap of crime analyst Melissa Jacobs.
“I brushed him, cleaned him — everything for his big debut. And now, he’s out,” she said early Friday.
Last week, Jacobs and Port Huron police Sgt. Adrianne Mynsberge traveled north to pick up the young pup: A rescue double doodle, a golden-labradoodle mix, they’ve named Titan.
But he has a bit of a wait before his role with the city is official.
“He’s all puppy,” Mynsberge said, chiming in with a laugh.
“I mean, he’s only 10 weeks. He sleeps more than he’s awake,” Jacobs said. “He can’t be a therapy dog until he’s a year (old). He has to be certified with Love On A Leash before he can be.”
Mynsberge said she was already researching getting a therapy dog for the department when, a year ago, she ran into a downriver police officer with a dog rescued through a statewide nonprofit that specializes in caring for doodles.
“So, I wrote a proposal for our chief and it took several months to get them on board, but they’re supportive of it,” she said.
Bringing 'happiness to people': What will a therapy dog do?
The decision to move forward with an application with Michigan Doodle Rescue Connect, Mynsberge said, came last September after they identified Jacobs to be the dog’s handler.
Then, they waited for a match — the group works with law enforcement through its K9’s 4 Blue program — until the call came earlier this month.
“Part of the reason we got him is we started a peer support team a couple years ago, and a lot of our support teams throughout the state and throughout the country are getting therapy dogs,” Mynsberge said. “So, the therapy dog can be used (for) a wide array of subject matter. He will be at the police department all the time. He’ll be support for our staff and our officers and everybody that’s here. … We do debriefings after critical incidents, and Melissa’s on our peer support team, so he will come to our debriefings.”
Mynsberge pointed to the late 2021 crash in which a vehicle with five occupants, including three children, became submerged in the Black River near the 10th Street Bridge as an instance when having a therapy dog at a debriefing may have benefited officers dealing with the incident.
Titan, however, will also make public appearances, she said, greeting residents at events and accompanying individuals during interviews.
“We haven’t worked all those bugs out. But we want him to be available — like the child advocacy center with our kids,” Mynsberge said.
When asked Friday, Police Chief Joe Platzer said, “I just wanted to make sure everything was solidified and that we had all our ducks in a row, regarding where we were going to get it from, policy, choosing the right person, which we have. It’s good to see (him) bring a happiness to people.”
'Cool as a cucumber': More on 10-week-old Titan
For now, Jacobs said Titan — a name chosen over two others in a department-wide vote — will hang out at the office.
The other names were Halo and Copper — one Mynsberge’s name for a protector, and the latter a nickname for cops and a reference to the light color of his fur.
It will be a few weeks until Titan gets the necessary shots and a veterinarian’s OK before beginning some training. Jacobs said they’ll use the time to get him acquainted with people first.
“Until he has his shots, he can’t really visit other dogs. That’s why we can’t start training,” she said. “So, I still walk him around, let everyone say hi, get him on that good socialization. Take him on the elevators. Take him up and down the stairs. Take him by doors that automatically moved because they can’t be startled by things. I already did that yesterday. Today, he’s more tired I think.”
Both Mynsberge and Jacobs said they also looked forward to using the time to get to know Titan, too.
“He seems to be cool as a cucumber,” Jacobs said. “Just so calm and attached to people — like he doesn’t want to be far from people, which are two very good traits for a therapy dog.”
Mynsberge said they were also taking donations to help care for and utilize Titan in service to the department and the public. Those interested and looking to pick up items can reach out at email@example.com.
Contact Jackie Smith at 810-989-6270 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Jackie20Smith.
This article originally appeared on Port Huron Times Herald: ‘He’s all puppy’: Port Huron Police Department welcomes future therapy dog