Wiggling around in a tan flak jacket nearly matching his coat, Forrest, a 12-week-old golden retriever, reported for duty Friday at the Cheshire County Sheriff’s Office.
Forrest has a calm and warm demeanor that not only exceeds his age, but perfectly suits him for the duties top brass are preparing him for.
Cheshire County Sheriff Eliezer “Eli” Rivera said Forrest will be a key part of the department’s approach to community policing and helping deputies cope with some of the troubling scenes they encounter.
“It’s become a very popular thing among police departments, because for the well-being of people that we interact with and that positive interaction — even in-house, for the guys who have a tough situation they have to deal with,” Rivera said. “They come back, and there’s this dog who will just kind of comfort them while they’re dealing with the stresses of the work.”
Rivera said he looked to Concord and Hancock as examples of departments that recently brought a dog onboard, as well as Allenstown and Greenland, where Forrest’s brother and sister are now training.
Forrest and his siblings were born from a mother who was one of more than 100 dogs seized at a Bradford home in June, according to Rivera.
Now, young Forrest is staying with Chief Deputy Trevor Croteau, who takes care of the pup’s training after hours.
“He chews on stuff, but he doesn’t destroy anything,” Croteau said.
During the workday, Forrest is the big man on campus in the office on Winter Street in Keene.
“He goes to everybody, and he expects his pats,” Croteau chuckled.
For now, the deputy dog is learning basic obedience in his first week on the job before advancing to more specific commands deputies will want him to have down pat out in the field.
Rivera said he hopes one of the best uses for Forrest will be in comforting victims of crimes and being able to settle down people coping with trauma, including his officers.
Until then, deputies and staff will have to watch out for stray chew toys in the office and guard any valuables from Forrest’s teething.
As the pup matures, Rivera said he could become a symbol for the department’s ethos of community policing.
“I think it sends a strong message as law enforcement that we understand, yes, we have a serious job to do,” Rivera said, “but at the same time, we want to bring ourselves to that level of providing comfort when it’s needed.”