What intrigued you to read this blog? Maybe three words stood out to you: “communications center” and “K-9.” We all know that a dog is man’s best friend, and we all understand that animals are a part of our everyday lives. Who doesn't like to walk through the front door after a long day at work and have your best friend there to greet you? Animals provide us with unconditional love and happiness. They also allow you to forget about any problems or stress you might be experiencing in your life. So why not bring a K-9 to work with you?
Working as a 911 dispatch supervisor, I understand the stress we all deal with on a minute-by-minute basis. I also understand your department or organization might not be on board with a K-9 in your center. However, what about the K-9 you currently have working in your own organization? When our K-9’s visit, it's amazing to see how our 911 dispatchers relax and interact with them. Any stress they might have experienced during their current shift is all forgotten during that 10-minute visit. Some dispatchers enjoy the visits so much, they bring in dog treats and store them in their personnel pedestals.
Although, not every comm center that I've visited has a K-9. Two weeks ago, I visited a center in Corvallis, Oregon, that has a cat as their comm center companion. They have had their feline friend for the past 14 years! This concept is catching on in other places too. Airports such as San Francisco International, LAX and Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport have a program where they bring K-9's in for the holidays. Volunteers bring in dogs that wear vests which read, “Pet Me.” These dogs roam airports with their handlers, providing relief to passengers. The airports have determined that interacting with these animals helps ease the stress of customers facing flight delays or the fear of flying. Here you see a picture of “Iggy.” Iggy loves to visit the comm center and will sometimes throw on a headset and take a seat at the console.
It's been proven that animals can relieve stress. The way that they can give affection, love and attention and not ask for it in return is a great way to relieve stress. So, blow off some steam, have a good cry or just give em' a pet, whatever you do, just look into those puppy dog eyes or that cute kitty face and find yourself de-stressed. And, if after reading this blog, you find yourslef asking 'should we introduce a stress reliever friend in our center?' Well, I'll leave that up to you...