Last month, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard introduced the two newest members of the Sheriff’s Office K9 Comfort Unit – Sadie and Wildcat. They join a collection of floppy-eared, undeniably cute, and over-the-top affectionate King Charles Cavalier Spaniel purebred dogs to highlight the real law enforcement benefit they have. In fact, two more are expected to join the unit in about seven weeks.
Multiple comfort K9s, including one named Oxford, were taken to Oxford High School by their
handlers when the school reopened after the tragic shooting in November.
“People just gravitate to them,” Bouchard said. “They smile, they pet the dogs. It’s like they just
take a deep breath. You can almost watch the dog absorb the anxiety. Afterwards, the dogs
literally passed out asleep because they were so impacted by absorbing that tension. They are
very intuitive. Also, this has been a super stressful couple years for our people and you can see
the amazing impact on them as well.”
Oxford’s partner is Deputy Scott Rafalski. They’ve worked together since last school year at Oxford Middle School.
“Instead of sniffing, barking and biting, Oxford just likes to give out hugs,” Rafalski said. “We’re in the middle school now, and will move up to the high school one day.”
Oxford turned nine months old this past July 21.
Rafalski said they are called to help a student who a teacher or counselor is having issues with. A student can be very emotional but that changes when Oxford comes into play. “I never thought it would be so helpful. It’s amazing to see him work. When we come in the tears shut off immediately and then they start smiling.”
Bouchard formed the unit three years ago. According to a press release from the OCSO, “it is believed to be the first of its kind using King Charles Cavalier Spaniels and certainly its size in the state, perhaps in the country. It now has dogs assigned to School Resource Deputies in Oxford, Independence Township, Pontiac, and Rochester Hills and several other communities.
Private donors sponsor the dogs. They range in age from three and a half years to 10-weeks-old. They attend public events, school events, perform community outreach in hospitals and respond to natural disaster scenes or perform crisis intervention.
— Don Rush