Therapy dogs are the ambassadors for the four-legged kind. Whether they are cheering up patients at hospitals, assisting the disabled, visiting nursing homes, building kids’ confidence in school, or comforting victims after traumatic events, these specially trained dogs always go above and beyond to help others.
Golden Retriever Scotti is one of these amazing assistance dogs. After undergoing intensive command, socialization, and skill training at the Canine Companions for Independence organization in San Diego, Scotti was evaluated. Impressed with Scott’s level of intelligence and even temperament, trainer Sarah Koch and her colleagues knew what kind of environment would be best for their bright student.
“We really thought a facility role could be nice for him,” Koch says of Scotti.
While Canine Companions for Independence typically trains their dogs to help people living with disabilities, Scotti seemed a perfect fit for a Los Angeles area police department who was looking to add a licensed therapy dog to their roster.
CBS Los Angeles reports that Scotti is one of only two police department therapy dogs in the United States.
Since joining the Hawthorne Police Department, Scotti has become a familiar and friendly face for the residents of Hawthorne, Calif. The friendly Golden and his K-9 handler, Lemeka Bell, spend their days visiting residents, senior citizens’ homes, local schools, hospital wards and, when duty calls, crime scenes to provide comfort and support to those who are in need.
Cancer patient Jasmine Faulk is fighting for her life, and her chemotherapy treatments often leave her exhausted. But meeting Scotti one day proved to be the boost she needed to get her through some of the toughest times after treatment.
“My stomach will be hurting and I would like feel tired and that stuff,” Faulk says. “And then when Scotti came I didn’t feel that way anymore.”
Hawthorne resident Lee Roberson says Scotti recently helped him get through surgery for prostate cancer.
“[Scotti] was lying on my chest, his head was on my chest,” Roberson says, remembering the moments just after he woke after surgery. “And I knew my buddy was taking care of me,” Roberson says, grateful for Scotti’s friendship.
Scotti was also on hand to help a family heal after a tragic shooting in October 2012. Filimon Lamas was fatally wounded trying to protect his family from a gunman. Lamas’s 4-year-old son was also killed in the rampage.
In the aftermath of the brutal murders, Scotti made frequent visits to the Lamas family and even accompanied them to a news conference.
“It was fantastic to see how they took to Scotti and it helped ease their pain,” Sgt. Cognac explains.
Scotti has gone a long way with helping the members of the department create lasting relationships with the residents they serve and protect every day.
“We figured canines were a fantastic way to connect with people,” Hawthorne Police Sergeant Chris Cognac tells CBS Los Angeles. “It opens up communications channels between the community and the police department.”
“Scotti’s here to help calm them down and give them the courage that they need to come forward and to help themselves,” Sgt. Cognac explains.
Source: CBS Los Angeles