One of the newest members of the Lacey Police Department (LPD) has four paws and is leading an effort to promote the emotional wellbeing of first responders and the greater community. Trip, a year-and-a-half-old bernedoodle, has received training to become a certified therapy dog. In his role as a therapy dog, Trip joins his owner Lindsay Palmer, a LPD employee, at the department helping to cultivate a supportive environment for officers and employees.

Trip, a year-and-a-half-old bernedoodle, is a certified therapy dog, helping to cultivate a supportive environment for officers and employees at the Lacey Police Department. Photo credit: Lindsay Palmer

Lacey Police Department Employee Realizes a Longtime Goal To Train a Certified Therapy Dog

In addition to her role as a Police Records Specialist for LPD, Palmer has also had a long-term goal to raise and train a therapy dog. This mission became even more clear after Palmer’s husband underwent cancer treatment and she became acquainted with the calming presence that therapy dogs can bring to a healthcare setting.

“I wanted to start training a therapy dog,” says Palmer. “It’s just been something that has been on my heart for a long time. My husband had cancer and when he spent time in the hospital, it was always really helpful when they brought in therapy dogs. And I could see the difference that just one little thing made for him.”

After further research about the increasing use of therapy dogs in police departments, and after participating in a training with a police department therapy dog in attendance, Palmer realized therapy dogs may also provide a benefit for local first responders. When Palmer learned of a bernedoodle litter with one last puppy available, she thought it could be a good opportunity to finally raise a therapy dog.

Trip, shown here lounging in the grass, attends community events as part of his job as Lacey Police Department therapy dog. Photo credit: Lindsay Palmer

Bernedoodles, a mix between a Bernese Mountain dog and a poodle, are known to be low-shedding, while also having a friendly, mellow personality that can make for a great family dog. These traits can also be favorable for therapy dogs. Palmer had received the necessary permissions from LPD to move forward with training a therapy dog, so she decided to take the puppy home.

Since then, Palmer and Trip have been hard at work in training. Trip has received obedience training, including the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen certification, socialization, and has also been attending work with Palmer to get used to the day-to-day role as a therapy dog. Trip has also been in training to remain calm in a range of situations, including those with crowds or loud noises.

“I’ve had Trip at work all the time and I’ve taken him to lots of trainings,” says Palmer. “He’s been to the range and he’s been at our Third of July event with fireworks and stuff like that. So, he’s very well socialized and used to different situations. And he’s also just the most mellow dog here at work.”

Lacey Police Department’s Certified Therapy Dog, Brings Sense of Calm, Support for First Responders

Now that Trip is a certified therapy dog, he has become a valuable member of the LPD team. Within the department, Trip can provide comfort or emotional support to officers who have responded to tough calls. In addition to acting as a calming presence, Trip serves as a City ambassador, interacting with community members at events like Lacey Children’s Day and local meet & greets.

Trip sitting in front of four Lacey police offers outside
Now that Trip is a certified therapy dog, he has become a valuable member of the Lacey Police Department team. Photo credit: Lindsay Palmer

“Officers may be coming off of a call that might have been difficult for them, or when they’re just having a rough day, like all of us do occasionally, and then they see Trip and their face lights up,” explains Palmer. “And it’s just like this small thing that maybe makes their day a little bit better, or helps them move past that call that they came from. And he’s very lovie, so his tail starts wagging immediately when he sees people and he just goes up to them and starts loving on them. It’s just the smallest thing that we can do to help our officers with their mental health and wellness.”

Palmer says the process of training Trip to become a certified therapy dog has been a dream realized. And through Trip’s presence in the department, he has helped bring a bit of joy to officers and employees on a daily basis.

In the future, Trip may also be able to support community members who have been affected by crime and have to visit the police department to provide a statement. Palmer also hopes that Trip can one day bring his smile and happy demeanor to additional settings, making visits to other departments, or local hospitals.

“It is something that a lot of departments nationwide are starting to do,” says Palmer. “And I think it’s a really cool program and we’re finally starting to focus on mental health and wellness for officers. And realizing how important that can be, because they do a very difficult job and a very emotionally taxing job and any little thing that we can do that will help them decompress is a good thing.”

To get updates about Trip, the certified therapy dog, or to learn more about community happenings from Lacey PD, visit the Lacey Police Department Facebook Page.


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