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'He’s such a celebrity': Riverview therapy dog invited to K-9 school in U.S.

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One of greater Moncton’s biggest celebrities is going to school this spring, but it isn’t a regular school.

Tanker is the therapy dog for Riverview Fire and Rescue, and he has been invited to a law enforcement K-9 school in Columbus, Ohio, to participate in extensive training.

Lt. Dave Murray, Tanker’s handler, said it’s a big deal for the department.

“There’s only 12 picked North American-wide to go and so we’re one of the lucky ones to go. It’s all North America, but mostly the States. Every once in a while they pick some from down here in Canada,” said Murray.

The miniature golden doodle is very well known in the community. Over the past year, Tanker has visited nursing homes, attended sporting events and has made numerous public appearances.

There’s even Tanker T-shirts and socks.

“It’s rather funny going through grocery stores or wherever,” said Murray. “He’s such a celebrity. They’re always asking, ‘Is this Tanker?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, this is the guy,’ and they’re like, ‘Oh, he’s such a celebrity,’ so, it’s really neat. Everyone loves him, I mean, how do you not like a dog?”

Tanker, a therapy dog for Riverview Fire and Rescue, is pictured with a group of women.

But his main job is to be there when firefighters return from a tough call.

A news release sent from the Town of Riverview on Feb. 14 stated Tanker was chosen because he has the potential to help even more people outside the fire department through the program.

"Tanker is a vital part of our department and has played a tremendous role in our community engagement as well as public education surrounding fire prevention, in his short time with us so far,” said True in the news release. “We are excited to have him and Lt. Murray embrace our values of dedication and professionalism in continuing their training with this opportunity."

Tanker, a therapy dog for Riverview Fire and Rescue, is pictured at a hockey game.

Tracey Ryan of Canine Therapy for First Responders said Murray and Tanker have done “significant work” for the morale and mental health of both the firefighters and the community.

"They were chosen over many other teams in North America due to their outstanding impact on the community and their leadership in putting their training into practice,” said Ryan in the news release.

“With this enhanced knowledge, they'll be able to expand their reach to working with other departments, in many intense scenarios, and we know that they will continue to do great things in Riverview and beyond."

Tanker is seen sitting in the seat of a firetruck. (Courtesy: Riverview Fire and Rescue)

Murray said Tanker will socialize with the other dogs and animals at the Columbus Zoo among other things.

“We’re going to have a helicopter come, land over top of us and take off and he’s to not respond to it. The same with drones flying over top of him. Then a speeding police car coming up with sirens on, not reacting to it. It’s all about not reacting to high-stress situations,” said Murray.

The program will take place in June.

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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