In April, we announced our new Comfort K9 program and the adoption of Liberty, a Golden Retriever trained to work as a therapy dog. Liberty – a.k.a. “Libby – will be deployed to provide emotional support for victims of crime, particularly children. There is a great deal of training and preparation required to get Libby ready for her new role, so we reached out to Detective Nina Garner, Liberty’s handler, to get an update:

How is Liberty’s training going?
Libby is doing exceedingly well in her training. She is currently learning to retrieve her “baby”, which is a toy, and bring it to a child. She is continuing her training at Applejack once or twice a week, and I work with her a lot at home.

What kinds of things do you practice during training sessions?
Libby’s training consists of a variety of things. These are a few of the things we have done:

-Run her through the obstacle course to gain confidence

-Obedience training

-In the field training (around noise and sounds she has to overcome)

-Change ups (changing up the obedience routine by altering commands and speeds of the command so she does not become complacent)

-Currently working on commands to bring toys to children and lean into them to snuggle them

In the future, we will move into off-leash commands as our bond grows.

When will Liberty be ready to begin working?
For the comfort aspect, Libby was born ready. We just need to fine tune her skills. Depending on the situation, she could be utilized anytime.

What is it going to be like to bring Liberty to work?
Libby has already been to work with me. She gladly hops in the car and away we go. Libby has a bed and plethora of toys in my desk area to play with. Part of Libby’s training is to stay unless I release her to play (a work in progress). Due to this, Libby sleeps and lays around a lot in my desk area. Other people in the office take Libby outside for walks occasionally. She also likes to visit Sergeant Clark for snacks!

How is Liberty adapting to life at home?
Libby is living her best life. A typical day for Libby consists of A LOT of playing with her dog-sister and two ducks. Libby enjoys frolicking in the grass, playing with her toys and getting lots of love from her human companions. On bath days, Libby enjoys getting as muddy as she can and playing in the creek.

What are her favorite “off-duty” activities?
Libby works for attention and toys. The first thing she ever wants to do is put a toy in her mouth and proudly show it to you. She loves running outside to burn some of that puppy energy.

If you had to pick one word to best describe Liberty, what would it be?
Loving. Libby is truly man’s best friend. She lives for cuddles and the human touch.