Sunday, July 21, 2024

Piper spreads cheer in RCMP OCC

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Piper is a Golden Retriever who loves her job! She is a therapy dog that comes to the Operational Call Centre (OCC) at RCMP Manitoba Headquarters every two weeks to spread some joy. The OCC handles all requests for service for the RCMP in Manitoba as well as provides continual monitoring of all the officers on duty in the field to ensure their safety. It is a stressful job, to be sure, and it can take a toll when you are on the phone guiding someone through the most tragic of circumstances until officers can get on scene.

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Joanne Hutlet, with the OCC, said she wanted to find a way to bring some smiles, some calm, and a peaceful presence to the OCC, where days can be long and extremely tough. Piper and her person, Carol, seemed the perfect fit!

With St. John Ambulance (SJA) Therapy Dog Program, Piper and Carol are specially trained to help people and provide a respite from the pressures being faced. As part of the RCMP team, Piper knows exactly what her role is. She marches right into the OCC and promptly goes to the first operator she sees and puts her head in a lap to wait for a pet (of course Carol is there to make sure nobody is interrupted on a call). Piper can sense who needs her, and she spends as much time as she needs to in order to brighten a day.

“I’ve been told Piper is an old soul,” said Carol, “and I have to agree. She wants to visit everyone, and there is such a calmness about her, ever since she was a pup. This is her way, and my way, of giving back to the community and recognizing the hard days some people are having in order to protect the rest of us.”

Piper’s visits are invaluable. “Everyone looks forward to Piper’s visiting days,” said OCC Manager Christian Rodger. “Her visits are one way that we use to help our operators cope within the stressful environment in which we work. Piper can change the mood of the room for hours after she has left. You can look at her and re-focus from what may be a day where we have encountered instances of trauma. Piper can help ease our response to those encounters.”

The work doesn’t stop with the RCMP, Piper is being tested for work with kids in schools, and Carol’s four grandchildren think she will pass! Piper is also hoping to start working in hospitals, particularly with patients with dementia.

To Piper and Carol, and those like them who reach out solely in the interest of helping others, we thank you. You make a difference.

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