After months of training, IMPD’s new therapy dog Gus was sworn into the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) and began his tour around all IMPD Districts to meet and greet officers.
“We are absolutely thrilled to add another four-legged member to the IMPD family. Starting today, Officer Gus will bring a furry and friendly face to comfort our officers during times of stress and hardship,” said Deputy Chief Valerie Cunningham.
Officer Gus was born Sept. 19, 2022, and is an Australian Mini Labradoodle. The 10-month-old is hypoallergenic and doesn’t trigger any allergies or respiratory reactions.
Officer Gus has been training with Ultimate Canine since November 2022. Since then, Officer Gus has gone through three levels of rigorous training that include over 30 obedience commands, environmental exposure, high level of socialization, specialty therapy commands and even training around gunfire, the sounds of sirens and in high-stress situations.
“Officer Gus is far from your ordinary canine companion. He possesses exceptional empathy and a natural ability to read and respond to human emotions. With a wagging tail and a warm heart, he will be a symbol of comfort, compassion and understanding for IMPD officers,” said Beth Johnson of Ultimate Canine.
His primary handler, Office Nicole Juday, has completed the therapy dog handler training course. As a certified handler, she will work closely with Officer Gus to apply their skill to the work of the department.
Officer Gus’ primary duties are to provide peer support to officers. As a therapy dog, he will play a crucial role in assisting officers in times of crisis, providing a much-needed sense of relief and connection. Officer Gus is looking forward to using his specialized skills to de-escalate tense situations and provide unconditional love to those in need. He even knows how to snuggle!
Officer Gus will join Officer Allie, who has been with IMPD since 2020, in providing psychological and emotional support for IMPD employees. Studies show a well-trained therapy dog can have a tremendously positive effect on an individual’s wellness following a traumatic event. In fact, the American Kennel Cub says visits from a therapy dog can lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce patient anxiety and increase levels of endorphins and oxytocin.
The IMPD Office of Professional Development and Wellness was created in 2010 and connects officers with professional services and resources. The wellness department serves more than 1,500 officers, reserves and civilians that are on staff, as well as their families.
IMPD would like to thank Three Dog Bakery for donating a dog-friendly sweet treat for Officer Gus to enjoy on his first day on the job.