[This article has been updated to reflect that Phoebe is technically a therapy, not service, dog.]
It was announced at a city council meeting last month that the Snoqualmie Fire Department would be adopting a dog: Phoebe. She is now ‘on duty’ at the firehouse and SFD has released a little more information about their new addition and the role she will serve.
Phoebe – a one-year old Goldendoodle – greets firefighters returning from a call, her tail wagging as one of them crouches down to pet her. Interactions like this – which SFD says help relieve the inherent strain of emergency response – are Phoebe’s main duties in serving the Snoqualmie Fire Department, the first on the West Coast to pilot this program.
As a therapy dog, Phoebe will help lessen the effects of stress on firefighters and emergency medical technicians, including avoiding untimely death by suicide. In 2017, more firefighters died by suicide than in the line of duty – a a rate 10 times that of the general population.
“Although we are a small community, our firefighters regularly see horrific accidents,” said Fire Chief Mark Correira. “These incidents can cause long-term, stress-related issues.”
According to a department press release, a therapy dog can help alleviate these issues, along with serving as a valuable asset when dealing with tragedies in the home that affect young children.
K-9 Caring Angels, an organization that places therapy dogs with soldiers, veterans, and first responders, donated Phoebe to the Snoqualmie Fire Department. The Snoqualmie Firefighters Association (SFA), along with donations, paid for personnel to travel with Phoebe from the East Coast. The SFA will also pay for Phoebe’s upkeep, with donations from local pet businesses like Love Bug Pet Boutique, Open Farm Dog Food, the Pooch Place, Salish Veterinary Hospital, and Snoqualmie Valley Pet Parlor.
Phoebe arrived in Snoqualmie from Virginia in mid-December, accompanied by Firefighter Matt Mundy and Volunteer Firefighter Lorrie Jones, who manage the therapy dog program and participated her training. They describe Phoebe as a friendly dog with a calm demeanor, a must for dogs in this role. The Goldendoodle breed is also non-shedding and hypo-allergenic, giving Phoebe the versatility to interact with numerous individuals.
The cream-colored, wavy-haired dog is already making herself at home in the fire house, from acclimating to the various station sounds to greeting incoming firefighters at the round table set up for shift changes, checking on them one by one.
“There’s magic having her in the room,” said Lt. Jacob Fouts of the Snoqualmie Fire Department. “She puts a smile on all of our faces.”