LOWELL, Mich. (WOOD) — The newest addition to the Lowell Area Fire Department has already been a big hit. Chief, or Little Chief as some like to call him, is an 11-week-old Golden Retriever and he’s already working hard on learning his duties. 

“The original bringing home was a family dog. You know, we’ve had a golden retriever in the past,” said Fire Chief Shannon Witherell. 

Witherell said when he began researching the benefits of having a dog, the decision to make him the official station dog was a no-brainer. 

Chief of the Lowell Area Fire Department Shannon Witherell works on commands with his new dog, Chief on Jan. 12, 2022.

“We’re not the only department in the county that’s using a dog for this. Dutton has a Dalmatian out there, City of Grand Rapids has a lab mix,” Witherell explained. “LA county in California has an entire program for station dogs for support for the staff.”

The pup reports for duty with Witherell Monday through Friday 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. and on weekends for staff training. He’s also doing some training of his own.

“Once he gets through his puppy school and obedience, we’ll look at getting him certified as an emotional support or therapy dog. Couple of different thoughts behind that. Number one for obviously the staff here and any other first responder staff in the area, but also we have four nursing homes in our area that we’d like to bring him to and spend some time with those facilities as well.”

Chief, station dog for the Lowell Area Fire Department works on his ‘sit’ command on Jan. 12, 2022.

Chief is also working on learning the ropes of the department.

“We are a functioning fire department, so during the day, he’s pretty well gotten it down where he hears our tones go off, hears the beeps go off for our pagers, and he actually goes right into his kennel in the office and hangs tight.”

Witherell plans to utilize Chief for public education events in the future. 

“We do almost 100 different public ed events a year that we’re gonna look to bringing him to for just to help kind of bridge the gap of some of the kids, make the kids feel a little more comfortable,” he said. “We’re gonna teach him to stop drop and rolls and stay low and go’s and help out with those events as well.”

You can follow Chief’s journey on his Instagram page