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A new ‘lab’ at the city of Waterloo


The city of Waterloo has a new temporary employee.

But this one has four legs.

A black lab named Oakley, known as the “Puppervisor of Forestry” is being cared for by the Supervisor of Forestry, Colleen Hammer.

“My husband and I just lost our dog a few years ago. We’ve always been dog people,” Hammer explained.

With the loss weighing heavy on their hearts, Hammer reached out to National Service Dogs who needed some help of their own.

“So we actually have 85 dogs in the program right now,” puppy program instructor Emma Bluhm said.

“Obviously, with a staff of about 20, we can’t all take home four dogs as much as we would love to.”

Working like a dog

Hammer got Oakley at eight weeks old, but the pup is already making a big impact at her workplace, attending meetings, supervising job sites, and conducting site inspections on the city’s urban forest canopy.

“I have people that I don’t normally see on a day-to-day basis stop by my desk daily so that they could just see Oakley,” Hammer said.

“She’s changed the dynamics around here. A lot of people just love her.”

Oakley’s time at the office is more than just a morale boost, it also offers valuable socialization and exposure experience.

“Under Ontario legislation, service dogs in training are not actually covered by law at all to have any kind of public access,” Bluhm said.

“So having employers like the City of Waterloo who allow their employees to bring these dogs in, [helps them] recognize that they’re puppies in training and might need a little bit more grace.”News

Oakley is being trained to help people with autism, people living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and to help ease anxiety. The National Service Dogs will see which environment Oakley thrives in, and place her there after she has spent a year with Colleen.

National Service Dogs is currently looking for 15 to 20 volunteer raisers to welcome a dog into their home this March.

Oakley, a National Service Dog trainee, in a photo from the City of Waterloo. Top Stories

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