DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has a new member on their Wellness and Peer Support Program: Fergus is a 1-year-old puppy, now assigned to Dan Brite, who was shot in the line of duty in Parker three years ago.
Fergus is a trained service dog. He helps Brite with wheelchair tasks.
“If I drop something, he helps me pick it up. If I fall out of my chair, I can brace to get back up in my chair,” Brite said.
Fergus is also a trained therapy dog, available to DCSO employees and their family members.
“He puts a smile on people’s faces but it also lowers stress, anxiety, heart rate kind of drops. Overall, a good break from everyday life. Fergus will be especially helpful during critical incidents,” Brite said. “Typically, their stress level is really high, their heart rate is really high, their emotions are really high, so it’s really hard to offer them resources and kind of provide help to that first responder because they are at such a high state. To bring in a therapy dog like Fergus, spend some time with him allows them to calm down and then when they start to calm down, then I’m able to interject some resources and get them help they need to process whatever critical incident they were involved with.”
For now, Fergus roams the hallways, making friends and getting treats.
“Fergus is definitely more popular. I get passed all the time by people, they go straight to Fergus. He strategically has places he gets treats, in Records, across the hall from me,” Brite said.
Employees seem to love their new furry friend.
“He’s always fun to pet and he comes up to greet you and every once in a while you get to throw a toy and play fetch and tug of war and such. If anyone needs to stop by for a cuddle, he is there,” said Toni Reynolds, coordinator for community safety volunteers with DCSO.
Fergus was provided by donations to Douglas County Friends of K9 and Mountain High Service Dogs. DCSO had borrowed South Metro Fire Rescue’s therapy dogs in the past and found them so helpful, they decided to get their own.
Additionally, Brite says Fergus is earning all the treats he is receiving.
“Some situations I get stressed out about, he brings sense of calmness, and just lets you know everything is going to be alright,” Brite said.