Meeting Mr. Murphy

Cpl.+Koch+kneels+next+to+Murphy+with+his+favorite+rhino+toy%0APhoto+credit%3A+Bella+Bonasera+

Cpl. Koch kneels next to Murphy with his favorite rhino toy Photo credit: Bella Bonasera

Bella Bonasera, Writer

Murphy is BFA’s new therapy dog. Some things Murphy would like you to know about him are that he’s three-and-a-half years old, his best friend is our own school police officer, Cpl. Kristine Koch, but a close second is his squeaky green rhino toy (pictured above). He especially loves it when the ladies in the attendance office throw it around for him. He loves the water, absolutely loves it.

“He loves to swim. He can swim forever without anyone throwing anything for him… He just swims and swims and swims,” Koch said.                                              

His favorite snacks are your standard dog biscuits, but especially apples and bananas. 

Even though he has a vest on, Murphy is not a service dog, he is a therapy dog. To answer your question, yes, you can pet him. 

The difference between a support animal and therapy ones, according to www.adata.org, is that “These support animals provide companionship, relieve loneliness, and sometimes help with depression, anxiety, and certain phobias, but do not have any special training to perform tasks that assist people with disabilities. Therapy animals provide people with therapeutic contact, usually in a clinical setting, to improve their physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning.” 

Even though Murphy wasn’t trained as a service animal, he was trained to become a licensed therapy dog. Murphy and Cpl.Koch took some courses with the head trainer of Therapy Dogs of Vermont, Deb Helfrich. He passed his test around February and then went through two evaluations in a nursing home. When Covid-19 hit, he couldn’t finish his third evaluation to become certified. Because Murphy did such a great job with his two evaluations, the state passed him in June 2020, and Murphy gained his vest. This is how Murphy became our Murphy.

“I wanted to do something with him. This is an extremely smart dog. And I didn’t want to waste the talent. So I tried to think of something that I could do with him…that wasn’t very time consuming to teach him, so I thought that [therapy training] would be pretty cool,” said Koch. 

If you’re interested, Murphy can be found with Cpl. Koch in the attendance office or around BFA in general. If you don’t have time to stop by and say hi, make sure to follow Murphy’s instagram @cplkoch_sro.