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Therapy dog Harley joins the Pennington County Sheriff's Office

The Pennington County Sheriff's Office has a new hire whose job is to "see if you can rub the fur off him."

His name is Harley, a 19-month-old black Labrador Retriever whose working as a therapy dog in the sheriff's office. 

His handler and owner is Corey Brubakken, retired captain of investigations and the wellness coordinator at the Pennington County Sheriff's Office. 

"What struck me about him is he's a lover, not a fighter. He wants your attention," Brubakken said of Harley. "Labs seek people's attention all the time, but he thrives on that. He's a ladies' man, and picks my wife over me all the time. He'll just lay on top of you. He just wants that contact."

Brubakken retired in April 2020 and decided to get another black lab puppy in June of 2020 after his previous lab of 13 years passed away two years prior. 

When Brubakken was asked by Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom to come back to work as a wellness coordinator, he proposed having Harley trained as a therapy dog for the nearly 450 employees at the Pennington County Sheriff's Office.

"First responders work in an extremely challenging environment, whether you work in corrections or law enforcement, or you're across the street at our care campus — they have a lot on their minds," Brubakken said. "When Sheriff Thom made the decision to create this position, he didn't do so because he's checking a box. If he does something it's because he cares about it. I truly feel that he cares about his employees and wants the best for them. My job is to help deliver that. So, we had to grow our wellness program. Long story short, this is where Harley comes into the picture because I say, 'Hey sheriff, what do you think about a therapy dog.'"

Brubakken said Harley is a natural for the job. 

"Sheriff Thom agreed to allowing us to go down this path. We got him all of his obedience training and recall training, looked into how to get certification. We've been working on that most of the summer. We just got him certified within the last month as a therapy dog," he said.

Harley works Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, where his job is to simply love on the employees.

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