RCMP Victim Services in Penticton have a new top dog.
Calypso, a three-year-old Labrador Retriever, has joined the team to provide comfort to victims of crime or those going through traumatic experiences and assist the Victim Services staff and volunteers.
Dede Dacyk, RCMP Victim Services worker in Penticton, is the handler and caretaker for Calypso.
“I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her over the last couple of months and get to know her character and her little personality and I know that Calypso will make a difference in people’s lives that have been traumatized, victimized or maybe have lost a loved one,” Dacyk said.
Calypso was raised in Calgary with an associate of Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS) and completed her training in Manitoba. PADS trains dogs who assist people with disabilities, hearing dogs for the deaf and dogs like Calypso who come from the canine assisted intervention program. PADS dogs have worked with medical professionals in hospitals, in hospices, in schools with counsellors and in victim services.
“These are very unique dogs. All of our dogs are unique, but it takes a very special nature to work in this type of environment,” Laura Watamanuk, executive director of PADS.
Victim Services dogs seek out the person who is under the most duress and provide a calming presence while being excitable and fun-loving as well.
Calypso has already got her paws on the street assisting the victim of an assault. The canine provided comfort to a person sitting in the gallery during the sentencing of 48-year-old Chad Shunter, who was given one year in jail after assaulting and threatening his former girlfriend.
“(Calypso) is very friendly, she likes to source out people who need a loving touch and helps them start the healing process a little bit quicker because the dog allows the person to start talking and emitting their emotions a little different than say a policeman would or Victim Service worker,” Watamanuk said.
Calypso is the first intervention canine placed with an RCMP detachment in B.C. PADS has placed 10 dogs across Canada.
When not at work, Calypso’s favourite pastime is swimming in both of Penticton’s lakes.
“I’m very, very grateful that we have these ladies and these volunteers (in victim services) and now we have Calypso to join them,” said Supt. Kevin Hewco of the Penticton RCMP. “They provide very critical services to victims of crime or victims or people involved in traumatic incidents.”