Nashville police introduce new therapy dog to officers, community

Posted at 4:27 PM, Apr 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-18 21:46:45-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A new therapy dog is lifting spirits at the Metro Nashville Police Department.

Most police dogs search for drugs and suspects, so usually, they get a fierce name.

“We thought about killer. We thought about lover. I just went with Toby,” Lt. Michael Gooch said.

Toby is the first therapy dog assigned to the Sworn Wellness Unit. He’s a lab and golden retriever mix that’s 10-months-old. In 2020, their team was created to connect officers to therapists and mentors.

According to Gooch, Toby appreciates cuddles and belly rubs from officers. In return, the pup brings smiles to their faces.

"In law enforcement, we see a lot of that, so if Toby brightens one day for one person, that’s all we can ask for," Gooch said.

On Monday, Toby visited the domestic violence unit.

Toby was trained through an out-of-state prison program called Paws and Stripes before he was donated to the department.

"Just his presence alone will help calm the situation, and then the clinicians or the peer supporters can really focus in on trying to get somebody the help that they need," Gooch said.

He attended his first school, Stratton Elementary, to do community outreach recently.

Therapy Dog
Toby's first school visit.

Once Toby gets promoted, he might assist with forensic interviews.

"I’ve got the best friend you could ever ask for," Gooch said, "This is exactly why he does what he does. He’s calm-natured, but just like any other 10-month-old — once the vest comes off, he gets a little wild."