Phoebe, a one-year old goldendoodle (golden retriever and poodle cross), greets firefighters returning from a call, her tail fanning the air as one of them crouches down to pet her. Interactions like this, which help relieve the inherent strain of emergency response, are Phoebe’s main duty as a therapy dog for the Snoqualmie Fire Department, the first on the West Coast to pilot this program.
As a therapy dog, Phoebe will help lessen the effects of stress on firefighters and emergency medical technicians, including avoiding untimely death by suicide. In 2017, more firefighters died by suicide than any other job-related death. “Although we are a small community, our firefighters regularly see horrific accidents,” said Fire Chief Mark Correira. “These incidents can cause long-term, stress-related issues.”
A therapy dog can help alleviate these issues, along with serving as a valuable asset when dealing with tragedies in the home that effect young children.
K-9 Caring Angels, an organization that places therapy dogs with soldiers, veterans, and first responders, donated Phoebe to the Snoqualmie Fire Department. The Snoqualmie Firefighters Association, along with donations, paid for personnel to travel with Phoebe from the East Coast. The Snoqualmie Firefighters Association will pay for her upkeep, with donations from local pet-related businesses such as the Love Bug Pet Boutique, Open Farm Dog Food, the Pooch Place, Salish Veterinary Hospital, and Snoqualmie Valley Pet Parlor.
Phoebe arrived in Snoqualmie from Virginia in mid-December accompanied by Firefighter Matt Mundy and Volunteer Firefighter Lorrie Jones, who manage the therapy dog program and participated in the dog’s training. They describe Phoebe as a friendly dog with a calm demeanor, a must for dogs in this role. The goldendoodle breed is also non-shedding and hypo-allergenic, giving Phoebe the versatility to interact with numerous individuals.
The cream-colored, wavy-haired dog is already making herself at home at the Snoqualmie Fire Station, from acclimating to the various station sounds to greeting incoming firefighters at the round table set up for shift changes, checking on them one by one.
“There’s magic having her in the room,” said Lt. Jacob Fouts of the Snoqualmie Fire Department. “She puts a smile on all of our faces.”
For more information, contact Snoqualmie Fire Chief Mark Correira at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 888-1551.
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Gail Folkins, City of Snoqualmie
425-888-1555 / 425-275-7950