Hawk Was Off to a Great Start—And then Came Coronavirus
Apr 30, 2020 06:00AM
By Marjorie Turner Hollman
Bellingham School Resource Officer Len Gosselin with his puppy, Hawk, and School Superintendent Peter Marano
by Marjorie Turner Hollman, Contributing Writer
School Resource Officer Len Gosselin recently retired his narcotics/search-and-rescue dog Spyder after their 9 and a half years of collaboration. “I’ve worked 27 of my 28 years on the job as a canine officer,” Gosselin said.
He was ready for something new and thought raising a puppy to first be a comfort dog in the schools would be a good place to start. Gosselin got approval from Chief Gerry Daigle, School Superintendent Peter Marano and Town Administrator Denis Fraine to start taking a dog with him to Bellingham schools. He purchased Hawk, a male black Labrador Retriever, with his own funds and for several weeks was able to introduce Hawk to the children of Bellingham. It costs at least $10,000 to purchase a fully trained service dog, “so I decided to train the dog myself,” Gosselin explained.
“It was going great,” he said. “Hawk has a great temperament, and the kids all loved him, both the young kids and the older, high-school kids. He was amazing with the kids with special needs and had a really positive effect on everyone he met. Even the toughest kids let down their guard with Hawk and ran with him up and down the halls, smiling.”
Gosselin hoped to have the children watch Hawk grow from a puppy, but the coronavirus pandemic had required all schools to be closed until further notice, and Hawk just keeps on growing. But since Len and his wife, Jennifer, have wanted to focus on dog breeding, the couple recently purchased yet another Lab, a female named Scout, and will pick her up from the breeder in the next few weeks. Gosselin plans to take both Hawk and Scout with him to the schools once they have reopened, which has now been moved to the fall, for the 2020-’21 school year).
“You never know when you get a puppy,” Gosselin noted. “From the very beginning, Hawk has been so easy going and laid back. I hope the female will be the same. Hawk’s only challenge is that he has a sensitive stomach, so we have to feed him the $95-a-bag dog food.”
With the approval of the school department, both Hawk and Scout will become part of the team that spends time in the schools offering comfort and joy to both the students and the staff. Gosselin plans to take the dogs step by step from being comfort dogs to helping them attain their K-9 Good Citizen certificate, and he plans to train them to eventually be narcotics/search-and-rescue dogs.
Everyone is looking forward to the time when we can return to some sort of normal, but for now, we have something to look forward to. Gosselin is working with Hawk and soon will be working with Scout as well, training them to become an important part of the community. We look forward to the day when we can meet these newest additions to the community in person.