Fire station dog therapy relieves stress for firefighters


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LAKEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) – West Metro Fire recently added two members to its crews to provide new support in times of extreme stress and anxiety.

FOX31’s Nicole Fierro got a peek at Ward Three on Sunday, where Remmey, one of the department’s new therapy dogs, is helping firefighters make great strides in the fight against mental health.

West Metro Fire received more than 35,000 calls last year, 70% of them medical.

“Over time, these calls add up and the stress can add to our firefighters,” said station captain Reed Norwood. “If there is a child we walk on, who may be the same age or the same clothes as our children, that is tied to our own family, and that can be particularly difficult to deal with.”

As the firefighters return to station three, a four-legged member of the crew is ready to do their part and help the heroes decompress.

“Remmey is three and a half years old, she’s our family dog, she’s an Irish setter,” said Norwood.

Every time Norwood comes to work for two days in a row, Remmey does too.

“I get up to get to work around 4:30 in the morning and she just knows this is a work day, so she gets excited, hops in the truck, and goes to work,” said Norwood. “She just knows who might need her and she will just sit with you and you will stroke and love you.”

Norwood believes quality time with Remmey makes a huge difference while also contributing to a cultural shift in the way firefighters interact.

“Years ago we just put a lid on it and didn’t bother about things,” said Norwood. “We wouldn’t deal with the stress, we would not deal with the fear. Now we’re starting to throw all kinds of tools for our firefighters. “

Remmey is one of two certified therapy dogs in the department. A few other firefighters are also in the process of certifying their best friends.

“There is such a story of dogs in the fire department, but in the last 50” [to] 60 years, that’s just gone. So it’s extremely beneficial to get that back, ”said Norwood.

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