PRINCE GEORGE, Va. (WRIC) — It is activity time at Brighter Living, and Coal the German Shepherd is the star of the show.
“Just his calmness and his sweetness,” says Daphne Brown. “He just lays there, and you can do whatever.”
Brown has been at the assisted living facility for a year, and Coal’s visits are a highlight.
The eight-year-old is Prince George Patrol Officer Samantha Hancock’s personal pet.
“There we go, there we go,” she makes her rounds with Coal in the lounge, as residents rub his head and back.
Hancock got Coal certified as a therapy dog after witnessing how quickly he could become friends with everyone he meets.
“They light up, they light up,” says Hancock.
Coal officially joined the Prince George Police Department last, and his job is about more than just belly rubs.
Coal is often brought in to comfort crime victims and helps children when they need it the most.
“If the kids have a hard time testifying in court, they don’t have to go up there alone,” explains Hancock. “They’ve always got a buddy with them, so they don’t feel centered or singled out. They’ve got somebody with them.”
Coal’s special outreach is connecting Prince George police with their community, and his role with the department really is a badge of honor.
“He’s the only therapy dog in the state of Virginia that’s part of a force,” Hancock says with pride. “I never expected the goofy little puppy that I had would do so much.”
Coal is also a popular visitor at schools throughout the area for a variety of reasons. Hancock says he helps to teach children how to approach a dog; students can practice reading to him; Coal spreads his calming effect throughout the schools too.