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Grand Rapids first responders add new assistant: Hope, the therapy dog

Hope is part of the "ROG the Dog" program through FirstNet by AT&T. She was provided to GRPD through the program and its partnership with Global Medical Response.

Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) has a new assistant. Her name is Hope, she is one and a half years old, has a wet nose, and calm personality. 

Hope is a new therapy dog for Grand Rapids first responders. She is part of a program called "ROG the Dog," a fleet of therapy dogs through FirstNet by AT&T. GRPD is one of more than 30 trained labradoodles (though Hope is a goldendoodle) trained to assist first responders. 

The goal is that Hope would help the first responders cope with emotions after traumatic calls, like a bad car accident or natural disaster. She will not only be used by GRPD officers, but firefighters, EMS, crime scene technicians, and more.

"I myself have been through some debriefings after critical incidents, and you're talking about what was happening at the time, and the emotions felt, physiological effect that has on you," said GRPD Sargent Dan Adams, "To be able to look over and pet Hope, and look at those big brown eyes, and kind of see that calming effect, I think is just going to add that amazing level of assistance to be able to work through that process."

Credit: 13 OYS
Hope is a one-and-a-half year old goldendoodle trained as a therapy dog.

FirstNet launched the program as part of their "Be There for America's first responders" commitment. ROG the Dog stands for FirstNet Response Operations Group. Labradoodles were chosen as the breed for the program for their temperament and being hypoallergenic. 

"She's still a puppy," said Dusty Vandermeer, operation supervisor and critical care paramedic with American Medical Response (AMR), "If you play with her, I'm sure she would have some fun. But she knows that as soon as the vest goes on, it's time to work. It's time to calm, it's time to keep everyone calm, keep everyone happy. She's definitely showing that she's good at it already." 

Vandermeer said the stress and long hours working as a paramedic are tough, and Hope helps ease some of that stress. 

ROG the Dog animals were placed with departments across the country. The program officially launched Thursday. 

"I think it's great to have an organization recognize and address the importance of mental health for first responders," said Julie Markowski, GRPD's Police Behavioral Health Specialist.

RELATED VIDEO: Lowell Middle School gets facility dog through Paws With A Cause

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