By Mickey Schommer
ONEIDA – The Oneida Police Department (OPD) recently added another member to their team — Smudge, an eight-week-old labradoodle.
Smudge will work with Student Resource Officer Eddie Metoxen to provide therapeutic aid at Oneida High School and Turtle School for students, teachers and police officers alike.
Smudge has already started her first session working of training which focused mainly on teaching her handler, Metoxen, how to effectively work with her.
So far, the goal is to get the puppy introduced to as many positive social interactions as possible.
Training with the puppy will continue until she’s a year old and then she will become a certified therapy dog.
Metoxen works with the counselors, social workers and psychologists at the schools, so he’s involved “when something happens to the kids.”
The officer is aware that police officers can look daunting while in uniform, especially for younger students. Smudge helps with alleviating that intimidation.
The puppy’s name comes from a Native American tradition called “smudging” in which sage is burnt to rid places or people of negative energies and promote positivity — a truly perfect name for the OPD’s new dog.
Though Smudge is adorable, Metoxen leaving the school takes significantly longer than without her.
“It takes a half-hour if I want to walk down the hallway at school because everybody wants to stop and say hi,” laughed the student resource officer.
Metoxen and the OPD have “no doubt” that Smudge will fit right in and make a positive impact on the school communities.