Rescuing Rescuers: ‘Aussie the Greyhound’ Joins Dallas Police Wellness Unit

Rescuing Rescuers: ‘Aussie the Greyhound’ Joins Dallas Police Wellness Unit

By Stephen Owsinski

Greyhounds are known to be winners with superior sprinting traits but also have capitalized characteristics when interacting with humans, especially those confronting chronic duress from careers in law enforcement. Hence, the Dallas Police Wellness Unit has added four-year-old “Austin” (aka Aussie) the greyhound to their specialized staff to aid Dallas police personnel with mental health challenges that inevitably pile up in police work…unless mitigated accordingly.

Accordingly, indeed. Enter welcoming eyes and bonding body language offered by Aussie the greyhound, who Dallas cops rescued to help rescue crimefighters and serve as an ambassador.

Themed in the movie Toy Story, Randy Newman’s famous song “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” melodiously conveys the sentiments every human deserves, especially applicable to our nation’s increasingly demoralized law enforcement community.

Donning a neon-yellow vest denoted with the bold-print words “Assistance Dog,” Aussie’s role is self-explanatory. This “good boi” is now among the crimefighters in Dallas and the metropolis city’s constituents.

Godsend Multiplied

Conferring with Dallas police Officer Joe King, who is among a cadre of cops comprising the police agency’s Wellness Unit, we learned that not only is Aussie added to the ranks as a salvation of sorts for officers but also a godsend for Aussie.

Per the pages of “Greyhound racing dogs who are past their prime, or who simply lose too many races, would face quick deaths if it weren’t for rescue groups who take them in and foster them. Greyhound Rescue groups teach these ex-racing dogs (who have lived their entire lives in kennels) how to be good family companions. The vast majority of Greyhounds found in family homes today are ex-racing dogs.

(Photo courtesy of Assist the Officer: Bridging the Divide.)

“With their quiet dignity and independence, Greyhounds are calm and quiet indoors, moving lightly and gracefully rather than toppling your lamps. They are comfort-loving dogs who want to snuggle on a soft couch or under a warm blanket.”

Moreover, we learned that Officer King recently experienced his German Shepherd crossing the Rainbow Bridge before locating and adopting Aussie from an animal rescue organization, one far away.

“Getting him just last week has been a blessing. I just happened to have lost my German Shepard, died suddenly two months ago, and this opportunity came up,” King shared with the National Police Association.

As a pillar of the Dallas PD Wellness Unit, ensuring agency personnel rocked by job-related woes receive counseling and buttressing, it sounds like Officer King was adopted by Aussie as the long-legged silent sprinter eyed him in return. Symbiosis!

Isn’t it typically the way it works with canines? The lore of “They choose us as we choose them” is not a mere philosophical point but a storybook played out infinitely…with prose intimating glee for all characters. In this case, the men and women in Dallas police blue are assisted by Aussie who helps chisel away at built-up duress. In turn, Aussie knows where his haven is…and it has a large police shield atop the entrance, its iconic star adding a new star to the team of justice officials.

Down Under

As his name implies his country of origin, Aussie is selected by/granted to the Dallas Police Department to serve as a partner in mitigating PTSD catered by being a cop, especially serving in a metropolis municipality.

I see no need to relive the stark day in Dallas infamy when a crazed gunman opened fire and rained down bullets on Dallas police officers heroically racing to save lives, ultimately laying down their own during the barbaric ambush on cops.

With that, anyone can conceive of PTSD seeds being planted by an evil doer thrusting mayhem upon the community, resulting in the murders of several of its law enforcement warriors in a single incident. Aussie couldn’t be any more timely…

Aussie originated in Australia and was cared for by a group called Aussie Mates in the States.

PTSD-trained greyhounds are designated for public safety entities, with Aussie Mates in the States focused on rehoming these specialized canines with first responders in the United States.

Naturally, the process to acquire qualified police assets is the same for canines as it is for human counterparts.

The rescue organization’s “mission is to deliver former racing greyhounds, from Australia, and train them as a PTSD companion dog.

“They then will accept applications for recipients and after a vetting process, they could be awarded one of these beautiful animals.

“I am honored to be selected as the pilot candidate for this program to introduce it to the Dallas Police Department to help our Officers,” Officer King explained.

(Officer Joe King wending through Dallas Police HQ. Photo courtesy of the Dallas Police Wellness Unit.)

He added proudly: “So far so good. The officers love him as you can probably tell from the videos and pics. He is really sweet. He has roughly three weeks left of training in PTSD therapy.”

As per the Assist the Officer: Bridging the Divide podcast website, “As an emotional support dog, Aussie is here to bring comfort and companionship to our employees.”

Officer Wellness Evolution

The National Police Association published a piece in April 2023, introducing our readers to the newly-founded Assist the Officer initiative, aptly known as the OWL unit (Officer Wellness and Longevity).

Dallas Police administration wholeheartedly embraced the concept and greenlighted the grassroots effort that has shouldered police peers.

(Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia befriends Aussie. Photo courtesy of the Dallas Police Department.)

Since then, the OWL unit has aided Dallas officers who wisely measured the weight of the job is needlessly hauled around while perilous life-saving work beckons.

In confidence, Dallas cops have stepped forward and received counseling and, in doing so, metaphorically smacked the stigma in the face, reviving themselves, and enabling ongoing stewarding over public safety principles for citizens. That denotes mature dispositions harnessed by justice professionals.

With that, the Wellness and Longevity unit personnel have concentrated on expansion to serve their peers better. Adding Aussie to the fold is a concentrated example of the ultra-focused nature of the Dallas Police Department’s compassion for its courageous cops who go out there and fight the good fight every duty day. Up to speed, Aussie comes to the Dallas police force as a member whose track record will be bolstered by partnerships with courageous cops sharing rescue traits…serving equilibrium to one another