‘Truckie’ begins training to become first therapy dog for Winnebago County firefighters

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LOVES PARK (WREX) — There’s a new furry face at North Park Fire Department.

“Truckie is a one year old yellow lab. He is currently in training to become a therapy dog for first responders,” Becca Sprague said.

Sprague owns and trains Truckie Barker.

She says the idea of training a therapy dog specifically for firefighters came from working with departments in college.

“We forget that it’s okay to not be okay and to just need that help and open up,” Sprague said.

“Anytime you can lighten a situation on a particular bad day, I think that’s what we need,” North Park Fire Chief Joel Hallstrom.

For North Park Fire Chief Joel Hallstrom having a dog around is just one way to help his crew relieve stress.

“We’re not a huge department, we don’t run 20,000 calls a year, but it doesn’t mean we don’t see bad things,” Hallstrom said. “If I can help somehow protect our firefighters, that’s what it’s all about, they’re our most important thing.”

While Truckie is still in training, he’ll soon be able to help firefighters across Winnebago County.

“It’s just reaching out and saying, ‘Hey, we would love for you to stop by with Truckie.’ They get to love on him, play with him and then I take him home at the end of the night,” Sprague said.

And if you’re wondering about his name…

“Anyone who rides on the truck for the fire service is called a Truckie, so that’s where his name came from,” Sprague said.

A new member of the firefighter family, who’s already spreading smiles around the station.

“If even one person is helped by having him around, that’s a victory as far as I’m concerned,” Hallstrom said.

The Greg Lindmark Foundation helps pay for Truckie’s training. If you would like to donate toward his training, visit the Greg Lindmark Foundation website and make a donation by specifying ‘Truckie.’

Taylor Utzig

Taylor Utzig


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