The Agamenticus Sun

The Agamenticus Sun

The Agamenticus Sun

Course Selection
May 17, 2024

Major the Comfort Dog


The York Police have recently welcomed a four-legged member to the station, responsible for fostering a supportive environment for the community and comforting anyone going through hardships. You may find this new recruit buried in his box of toys or sleeping in his favorite nook at the station, but most importantly, you will find him providing comfort to the community around him. This new member of the police station is none other than Major the Comfort Dog, a chocolate colored English lab carefully selected for his esteemed role in town. 

Major’s handler, York Police Officer Michael Taddei, was willing to share some of his and Major’s experiences together and shed light on what Major does for the community. Major is gifted when it comes to helping victims of domestic, child, or even elder abuse through their time of trauma. Taddei shares that Major “helps them through that situation emotionally.” Having Major in the room while victims and survivors recount their experience typically results in that person opening up more and feeling more comfortable sharing their experience. Taddie recalls studies showing that child abuse survivors are about 70 percent more likely to open up about their experiences when a dog is in the room. Some more of Major’s responsibilities include community outreach and involvement, helping those going through a loss, and even helping the police first responders dealing with the troubling scenes on a daily basis. Taddie explains that having Major around has been a huge morale booster for everyone around him.  

Training is crucial in developing a skilled comfort dog, and Major is moving right along in his lessons. He is currently at the basic obedience training level, and on his way to advanced obedience training and official therapy dog certification. Major is being trained by a trainer in Nashua, New Hampshire with extensive experience. This trainer has trained essentially all of the service dogs in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and has “really led the charge with comfort dogs” (Taddei). Taddei explained the quite specific (and slightly amusing) selection process of which dogs are chosen to be trained as comfort dogs. Major was bred through a breeder who specifically breeds comfort and working dogs. His litter was a litter of English Labs, well known for their calm temperament. A series of tests is performed on puppies from the litter to determine which puppies are best fit for a life of comfort dog training and duties. One of these tests is simply picking the puppy up, and paying attention to its behavior and body language. Taddei explained that if a puppy tends to pick up their hind legs in the air, or is more hesitant to be handled, they are not chosen for the job. On the other hand, the dogs who let their legs dangle and are more comfortable being handled, are often selected for comfort dog training. Major went through tests with his litter where he visited retirement homes, elementary schools, and universities to examine how he behaved with people of all demographics. He even went to the gun range, and slept through the whole thing! Major is committed to his craft as he began his training at only 15 weeks old, and was brought into the police station after only two days of being at his new home. 

Major has been found to be exceptional at working with people of all ages, but Taddei explains that he is most proud of Major’s behavior around young children. When asked Major’s greatest strength, he proudly says, “I would say his demeanor around small kids. That was one of the most surprising things for me to see him so young, just be so calm and docile around kids.” He retells a story of a time Major interacted with children not only in a community school setting, but in a professional setting directly related to Major’s job. There was a domestic abuse case where the children were removed from the scene and brought to the police station for safety. Major stuck by those kids for as long as they needed, and Taddei says that he often gravitates towards people in the room that he feels need him the most. Taddei expands on the fact that visiting schools, like when Major pays a visit to YHS, is super beneficial in Major’s training and journey to being a comfort dog. It gets him used to people touching and talking to him. Aside from being great at communicating with small children and humans in general, Major is gifted at the art of sleeping, Taddei says with a laugh, “He’s very good at sleeping, that’s probably his real strength”.

Officer Taddei hopes that everyone’s experiences with Major have been good ones, and encourages everyone to “never be timid about interacting with him [major]. That’s what he’s here for, he’s here to meet with people and to be affectionate towards everyone.” Never be afraid to approach or engage with Major, but always ask before. 

Ultimately, Major is a treasured new member of the York Community, and we have all reaped his benefits, whether that be just seeing him around town, or when he visits YHS during stressful academic times. Major is a dog committed to helping the community, and does so evidently in many ways. A “major” thank you is in order to Officer Taddei and Major for bringing such a helpful, comforting, and encouraging presence into the community. 

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