July 27, 2020
For children, police stations can be scary. That’s where facility dog Kane comes in.
For five years, the nearly eight-year-old yellow lab— who partners with Moose Jaw Police Service Victim Services co-ordinator Donna Blondeau — has been comforting both children and adults alike.
While his work with adults — including members of the police service — is crucial, his interaction with children can work magic.
To help children understand more about what Kane does and how he can help them should they need to come into the police station, Blondeau has written a book entitled Kane’s Tale. Geared toward elementary school-age children, Blondeau intends to hand the books out to students in the Moose Jaw public and Catholic school systems in the fall.
“The book was written with the message that some of these children may have to attend to the police service for one reason or another,” said Blondeau. “That can be a pretty scary prospect for a lot of children … We want them to know that Kane may be available here for them, so it’s a friendly face.”
Combining Kane’s story with pictures of the photogenic canine, the book introduces Kane — a facility dog from B.C.- based Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS) — as “your furry four-legged friend.”
“If you need to come to the Police Station, I may be there to help …,” reads part of the book. “I am here to comfort and support you.”
Paired with a picture of Kane snuggled up against a child, the book says, “I can give you comfort by staying close to you. I want you to feel safe.”
Blondeau’s office walls contain the expected photos and certificates, but it holds something else: four paper paw prints. As Kane sprawls on the floor, work vest off and belly up for a rub, Blondeau explains the prints were gifted to her and Kane by a child who’d once come into the police station to provide a statement. But for Kane, the girl later said, she wouldn’t have been able to get through it. That’s Kane’s gift, said Blondeau — one the 26-year victim services veteran has witnessed again and again in police interviews and in the courtroom. Like other trained facility dogs— including Merlot in Regina and Beaumont in Weyburn — Kane gravitates to those who are anxious or scared, then lends a gentle paw to comfort them.
“Kane is a soft touch,” said Blondeau. “He’s very gentle, very quiet, and he knows when people are upset and he presents himself. He will just be there with that person, whether it’s in court, whether it’s in an interview.”
Blondeau hopes — the COVID-19 situation permitting — to go into schools with Kane in the fall and read the book to children, before providing each with their own copy to take home and read with their parents or guardians.
The book will be free so all kids can get one, regardless of their family’s financial means.
“I want to ensure that all children in those age groups get the books,” she said. “I think it’s extremely important because I don’t think it’s worth anything if only a few people are able to obtain that book.”