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Making a paws-itive impact

Arlo serves the Hobart-Lawrence Police Department both at Hemlock Elementary with School Liaison Officer Sarah Manning and on patrol.

Arlo and Stanley celebrate one year with HLPD and DPFR

By Janelle Fisher

City Pages Editor

DE PERE/HOBART/LAWRENCE – Last April, the Hobart-Lawrence Police Department and De Pere Fire Rescue each welcomed a puppy into their ranks.

Now, one year later, those puppies have undergone rigorous training to become therapy dogs, serving their departments and the community.

Arlo and Stanley, brothers from the same litter, have completed many hours of training over the last year to become comfortable with different surroundings and situations, bond with their handlers and to learn the skills they need to do their jobs.

That training has paid off, too, as both Arlo and Stanley recently earned their therapy dog certifications through Therapy Dogs United and have also acquired other certifications such as S.T.A.R. Puppy and Canine Good Citizen.

In the HLPD, Arlo accompanies his primary handler Officer Sarah Manning in her role as school liaison officer at West De Pere’s Hemlock Elementary where he assists with safety teachings and provides comfort for students and staff.

“When I’m going into the classrooms and teaching, whether it’s safety related or whatever, Arlo will come into the classroom so he can be with me and then after the talking portion of it, I always allow the kids to have some time with Arlo,” Manning said. It’s helpful for the kids in the classroom when we’re learning about a topic that could be a little bit anxiety-filled or stressful for some kids, even though we try to make those teachings to their level… but for some kids, the presence of Arlo really does calm them down and allows them to focus a little better rather than being worried about the topic that we’re talking about.”

When he’s not helping out with a lesson, Manning said visiting Arlo has become a regular part of many students’ day and his impact has been nothing short of incredible.

Stanley’s primary job with De Pere Fire Rescue is to provide comfort to the staff, but he also makes frequent visits to other departments and has become an important part of the department’s public relations.

“Just the presence of him alone, you can tell changes moods,” she said. “It makes people feel a little bit better… There’s something about having that constant companionship that’s calming and releases some stress or anxiety, whatever those stresses may be. It could be something really big or it could be something really small, but walking into a classroom or walking into a staff member’s office or whatever it may be, you can almost feel the energy of the room change.”

When school lets out for the summer, Manning said Arlo’s will be out on patrol, assisting with calls where his presence may help bring comfort to those involved.

“He’ll be on patrol and out going to calls,” she said. “We can utilize him in a lot of senses where we’re dealing with mental health or we have a call where there is a loss and there’s stress, there’s anxiety, there’s sadness or whatever the situation may be. If it’s safe to do, we’ll bring Arly into those calls to kind of help de-escalate situations and to help make people feel a little bit more calm.”

Come next school year, Manning said Arlo will return with her to Hemlock but still be available for calls when he is needed.

“Officer Radke for our department is technically considered Arlo’s second handler, so that’ll look like if there’s a situation when I’m in school, we don’t want it to be that Arlo can only be utilized here during the school year. So if Officer Radke is on and there’s a situation where they could use him outside of school, he’s able to come get Arlo and is able to take him out on calls even during the school year. So primarily in the school year, he’s going to be here with me helping with kids and helping with staff… but we’re not going to limit him to that.”

At De Pere Fire Rescue, Stanley also serves multiple purposes.

“We essentially have a couple different primary tenets of his function,” said Chief Alan Matzke. “The most important one is really just mental health comfort and care for our staff. So for him to be available, be in the firehouse and be accessible just to brighten their day anytime they’re in the firehouse, that’s the primary focus and he’s doing that completely.”

Though his primary task is to provide comfort and companionship for staff at DPFD, Matzke said there are many departments throughout the city that have come to appreciate Stanley’s calming presence.

“What’s happened is his popularity has just exploded,” he said. “During the course of the week, not only is he in our station, but we’re connected to the police department, health department and City Hall. So anytime Lea or myself go to those other departments within the city, he comes along and most people throughout the city anxiously await those visits.”

Stanley’s presence, Matzke said, has a way of improving morale wherever he goes.

“The general mood around the station always seems better,” he said. “It’s interesting. You can bring a dog in as a distraction and it becomes the center of attention — it becomes the conversation piece. What tricks did he learn? What’s he doing? Where does he go? He really tends to, in my opinion, bring the staff together.”

In addition to his therapy work, Matzke said DPFR has also been able to utilize Stanley as an asset to the department’s public relations.

“So his primary job it so help our staff, secondary is the staff within the city and the community and his third job is public relations…” he said. “And that third tenet has paid off in huge dividends… So you see those stale safety messages that every fire department puts out about candle safety or preparing for wood-burning season or first aid… We try to put this information out and no one ever reads it. But all of a sudden these messages come from Stanley and they’re written from him, and we’ll go around the community and people non-stop will be telling us about, ‘Hey, I saw that thing you said about candle’s and his little birthday cake and that was such a great story.’ That has been a benefit that we didn’t see coming — he’s become the face not only of our department but of our city.”

To keep up with Arlo and Stanley as they continue their therapy work, check out De Pere Fire Rescue and the Hobart-Lawrence Police Department on Facebook.

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