Ollie the therapy dog brings support to high school students

GEORGETOWN, Ky. — He’s the Georgetown Police Department’s newest officer.

What You Need To Know

  • Ollie is a three-year-old golden retriever who joined the police force to be a therapy dog ​​for students
  • Having Ollie in the building helps students embrace change as they emerge from COVID-19 restrictions
  • Ollie allows officers to connect with students in need
  • Students at Great Crossing High School enjoy having Ollie around to brighten their day

Ollie is a three-year-old golden retriever who joined the police force just over a week ago after wrapping up 14 days of sensitivity training. Ollie is not your normal K-9 officer, he has a unique job.

“Ollie’s purpose here at Great Crossing is a therapy dog ​​to provide emotional support for students within the Scott County Schools District,” Ben Martin, Ollie’s owner and partner at the Georgetown Police Department, said.

For Martin, Ollie is much more than a four-legged friend to help patrol the halls here at Great Crossing High School, he is an important resource to his job.

“When I did my research, when I first thought about this adventure with Ollie, I pulled some of the counselors and some of the family resource coordinators, and they just provided tons of feedback that Ollie would be a benefit here in the schools with mentally health issues, depression, anxiety, and also just building rapport with students and the police,” he said.

Ollie with officers from the Georgetown Police Department. (Spectrum News 1/Steve France)

Ollie’s demeanor towards students is infectious. Now, more than ever, both students and staff begin to emerge from COVID-19 restrictions, so having Ollie in the building is an added bonus to help them embrace change.

“It means a lot to have Ollie here at school. When Ben first approached me about Ollie coming to Great Crossing to be a part of the Warhawk Nation, it was a great fit. Post-COVID, we have a lot of kids with increased Anxiety and have some emotional needs that Ollie was just the perfect solution to this need that our students have. And just his presence in the building. Kids are so excited to see him in the hallways. He’s just a welcome sight in any hallway he’s in ,” Joy Lusby, the principal at Great Crossing High School, said.

For Ollie, his new gig is pretty sweet; he’s the recipient of lots of pats on his back and tons of hugs and kisses. In the eyes of Ollie’s trainer Sydney Buck Pennington, the work she put into his training has everything she sees proves that her student is a product of successful training.

“He is very smart. He is very eager to please and just a very, very, very great, fun overall experience working with him. It was an absolute honor to be sought out by the Georgetown Police Department and an absolute honor to be able to work with Ollie. He is an incredible dog, and I know I will be talking about him and referencing him for the rest of my training career,” she said.

Just having Ollie in school helps provide officers with a unique advantage in the way they can communicate with students in need.

“As far as us as police officers, sometimes there’s a wall, there’s a barrier where students are afraid to open up to us. And Ollie provides that, I guess, kind of ability to knock down the wall, to come in and open up to us as police officers,” Brandon White, a police officer at the Georgetown Police Department, said.

Ollie’s knocking down walls while building up bonds with students.

“I know he’s going to be a huge success and be able to provide help for everybody in the school system,” Martin said.