Jail bail is fundraiser for MNW therapy dog

Chief Gerry Frick is sending Lady to school to learn all the golden doodle can do

-Submitted photo Ella Durbin looks up after reading to one of the puppies during a recent meet and greet at the Manson Public Library.

MANSON — Several “arrests” are scheduled for next month around the Manson area — all because of the police chief’s dog.

Police Chief Gerry Frick will be sending around some 10-year-old “officers” to book willing volunteers, who will then have to pay a “bail” as part of a fundraiser for Manson Northwest Webster Community School District’s new therapy dog.

Frick came up with the idea after his dog had a litter of puppies.

“I was studying to be a preschool teacher, and I worked over in Cedar Rapids,” he said. “They have nine therapy dogs in one of their school districts. When I became police chief in Manson, I thought it would be good to have a therapy dog in school, to help with the kids. So I asked the school — I had a litter of golden doodles — if I donated the doodle, and we could get the training paid for would they use it? They said yes.”

One puppy, named Lady, was selected and will head out in September for her training. But first, there are things to be done.

-Submitted photo Sully Nelson, at left, along with Layne Condon share one of the puppies with Nora Nelson recently at the Manson Public Library.

Such as reading to the puppies at the library.

“We’re socializing her and the rest of the litter at the library,” Frick said. ”Kids are coming into the library and reading books to the puppies, I think we’ve had 40 kids over the past four days, who can come in and read books with them. The puppies sit in their laps, and the kids interact with them. It’s fun.”

It will cost about $7,400 total for the training, Frick said. Two fundraisers are planned.

The first one, on Sept. 15, will be a “jail and bail”event.

Arrestees will be anyone whose friends decide to invent charges for them. Then a driver, using a new vehicle donated by Rost Motor Inc., of Manson,, will take the 10-year-old officers around to make their arrests.

“If I wanted my husband to do it, I would write up ‘charges’ — it could be ‘your hair is too long’,” said Kim Hoefing, assistant Manson city clerk. “They’ll take them to the MAC Center, book them, take photos.”

“The magistrate will read their charges, and give them a bond,” Frick said. “Then they can sit out at a table and call family and friends to raise their bond money.”

Serving time at the recreation center won’t be that bad. Hoefing said the food, at least, should be nicer than the stereotypical jail fare.

“I think it will be pretty good. Smoked loin and stuff,” she said.

There will also be an ATV poker run in October, to coincide with Manson’s downtown chili feed, Frick said. For a $20 entry fee, folks can get a map of locations to visit by four-wheeler and pick up cards, to see who will have the best hand by the end.

The dog will be sent to Iowa City for training. First she’ll work with trainers in the penitentiary, learning obedience and basic skills. Then she’ll work with a specialized trainer for 28 days.

After she returns to MNW and starts work, the trainer will come by and actually observe her working, Frick said. Then they can take notes, try to fix any problems they see, or even take her back to Iowa City again for more training if necessary.

Right now, Lady is learning the basics — such as how to be housebroken — with the help of Elementary School Principal Bret Larson and his family. They took her in because she will need a place to stay.

“It’s going to be an added bonus to our district,” Larson said. “Not just to our elementary; the goal is she will be shared between both buildings as needed.”

After Frick offered to donate a dog, Larson reached out to schools near Cedar Rapids to learn what they did with their dogs.

“I’ve just heard a ton of positive reviews on the impact it can have inside a school building,” he said. ”It’s something we’re excited to try out. We’re still in the early stages. We’re definitely learning a lot, and figuring out the best way to utilize her.”

One big plus is using the dog to help students who may have anxiety, or to help them relieve stress. A dog can also help students who may have behavior issues.

“They talk about, if a student is on the verge of having an outburst, bringing the dog around can really change the student’s day,” Larson said. “Because this student knows the dog is not going to go around them if they’re having one of these outbursts, so that can help them calm them down, and kind of get them back on track so they’re ready to learn.”

Lady will probably greet the students as they arrive in the mornings, Frick and Larson said.

She’ll be especially helpful for kids with ADHD, or test anxiety, or social issues, Frick added.

“Maybe they don’t like being out in public alone, they can go with the dog,” Frick said. “Lady would be able to go with them to a football game or basketball game.”

Aside from that, there’s just that comforting feeling of safety and security people get from having a dog around, Larson said.

“You could use her as a reward too,” he added. “Students displaying good behavior maybe get to walk her, or spend extra time with her.”

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