Dighton Police comfort dog Oakie is partners with SRO Stephen Hathaway

DIGHTON — Oakie the community comfort dog has arrived in Dighton.

On Thursday, July 21, an enthusiastic, dog-loving crowd gathered in the conference room at Dighton Police Department headquarters, including K9 Raider from the Somerset Police Department and K9 Marty from the East Providence Police Department.

And just past noon Dave and Peggi Brogan of Boonefield Labradors presented the eight-week-old pup to School Resource Officer Stephen Hathaway.

Oakie, perhaps overwhelmed by the long ride from Southern New Hampshire and the big Gotcha Day to-do, snoozed on and off for most of the hour-long welcoming party, but did have a chance to get acquainted with Raider and Marty, fellow Boonefield labs, the DPD gang, members of the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office and a few Dighton town officials and residents.

Oakie will benefit from the all the rest, though, as he and SRO Hathaway were set to start training as a team on Friday.

The Town of Dighton and the Dighton Police Department welcomed new comfort dog Oakie, an 8-week of black Lab, with a ceremony at the police station on Thursday, July 21, 2002. Oakie will be partnered with and reside with School Resource Officer Stephen Hathaway.

Oakie is under the command of and will reside with SRO Hathaway, and in the days and years ahead will be a friendly, reassuring police and community spokes-dog and likely attain celebrity status in Dighton in short order.

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“Every day he will come to work with me,” Hathaway said. “You know, for now, during the summer we’ll be going to different events, different community outings and whatnot, here in Dighton and the surrounding towns.

“And then, during the school year he’ll be with me, primarily going to the schools.”

How it all began

Hathaway says interest in bringing a comfort dog to Dighton was piqued in the summer of 2021 while he and Assistant SRO Alyssa Bennett were attending training to become certified as school resource officers.

Oakie, Dighton's new community comfort dog, in the arms of Dighon Police Department Assistant School Resource Officer Alyssa Bennett during a welcoming ceremony at the police dept.  headquarters on Thursday, July 21, 2002.

“There were a handful of comfort dogs that were there,” Hathaway said. “So we got to talking to these guys and gals that have the dogs and they said that the change they see, by being able to bring the dog into the schools, the change with these kids is amazing.”

“Some kids that usually have behavioral issues, they know, ‘If, hey, I’m good on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I get to see the dog on Thursday.’ And it really changes their whole perspective. They say it’s been a great tool for them.”

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