Meet Koltan, the therapy dog helping emergency dispatchers cope with stress
Employees at British Columbia's largest emergency communications centre are getting a new colleague to help call takers and dispatchers cope with the stresses of their jobs.
Koltan, a four-year-old certified assistance dog, is the newest full-time member of E-Comm and he's on a mission to keep blood pressures low and spirits high.
"I've worked with him for a couple of years now," said Lynn Gifford, a trauma counsellor who's also joining the team. "He just brings this sense of calm to every situation. He makes people smile and I think the work that these people do here is very, very important and very hard and I think Koltan will help."
The Labrador Retriever was purpose-bred by the Pacific Assistance Dogs Society to be a support animal.
"He has a wonderful, kind of affiliative nature. He's very drawn to people. When they're upset or they're worried, he kind of goes and seeks them out. He has kind of that natural talent," said PADS spokesperson Tara Doherty.
After 2 ½ years of professional training, Doherty said Koltan became an ideal candidate for E-Comm, not only because of his remarkable ability to help those going through stress or trauma, but also because of his resilience.
"I think Koltan has shown us from the very beginning that nothing really rattles him," she said.
"He comes in here and we know that he's a dog that can handle whatever kind of gets thrown at him, but he's also a dog that knows how to shake it off. If he's had a rough day, he can go to the park and just kind of get the silly on and just be a dog and kind of shake off that stress. Not all dogs are able to do that."
And his presence is already being felt.
"When you have a big call, your adrenaline is usually through the roof and Koltan just has this presence that like brings you back down, so he's going to be really awesome for this staff," said Jordan Robitaille, a training specialist and police call taker at E-Comm.
"He has this incredible sense of calm. Whenever he's around, his sense of calm just brings you down from wherever you're at and he essentially forces cuddles upon you. How can you say no to that? It's amazing."
With files from CTV Vancouver's Sheila Scott