January 23, 2023 By Carol Britton Meyer
All of the expenses associated with Hingham Police Department’s comfort dog, Opry, are funded solely by generous donations from individuals and businesses throughout the community.
Comfort dogs help reduce stress in challenging situations and promote wellness and healing for members of the community. “It’s all about relationship-building,” Opry’s handler School Resource Officer Thomas Ford told the Hingham Anchor. “The town owns Opry but doesn’t pay her expenses, which means the program cannot continue without proper funding through donations.”
An event hosted by the newly-created Hingham Working Dog Foundation, Inc. and planned for Sunday, Feb. 5, at Untold Brewing taproom & restaurant at the Derby Street Shops will provide an opportunity to have a fun time while benefitting a good cause. HWDF pays for food, additional training, and medical care for Opry.
“A priority goal is to raise money to pay for a safe and secure vehicle for Opry’s transport, featuring heat sensors for climate control and a caged-in area,” HWDF President Mary Ann Blackmur told the Hingham Anchor.
The HPD comfort dog program is separate from the HPD’s canine program for law enforcement and patrol purposes, according to Ford.
The fundraiser will take place at Untold Brewing between 2 and 6 p.m., featuring tasty menu offerings, live music courtesy of Aldous Collins from 2 to 4 p.m., special guests Plymouth County District Attorney Tim Cruz, HPD Chief David Jones, and Select Board Chair William Ramsey starting at 4 p.m., and fun door prizes, artwork, and auction items. All ages are welcome.
Stop by Untold Brewing anytime between 2 and 6 p.m. to place a bid, with eligibility limited to Hingham residents only and students at any private or public school in Hingham.
“Opry’s work has been extensive, and she has spread joy all around Hingham including the elementary schools, the Senior Center, the library, many sporting events, and more,” Blackmur said.
Auction items include a ride to school in a Hingham Police cruiser, with a celebrated entrance into school with lights and sirens; a walk to school with Opry, with the child holding her leash and a morning visit to his or her classroom; and a pizza and cupcakes party with Opry at the Hingham Police Station for the winner and five friends and a tour of the building. Dates for each event are negotiable. All auction proceeds will benefit the HWDF.
Untold Brewing and Clandestine Kitchen are donating use of the space, with a portion of the day’s proceeds to benefit the HWDF.
This event will not only help support Opry’s upkeep but will also raise awareness about the bigger picture of HWDF providing an opportunity for Hingham residents to have their dogs participate in a wider comfort dog training program.
The non-profit Hingham Working Dog Foundation was founded in Oct. 2022 to support HPD’s comfort dog program and to grow Hingham’s community comfort dog program. HWDF relies on the generosity of the community through donations and participation in fundraising efforts.
As background, Opry was saved from a no-kill shelter in Texas by PAWS New England. The Plymouth County District Attorney’s office — under the leadership of Cruz — provided a generous grant to bring Opry to the HPD and to cover basic expenses for the first few years. The newly-established Hingham Working Dog Foundation aims to:
- support the Hingham Police comfort dog program, including Opry’s training, daily needs, and medical care, and to financially support her throughout her working life and in retirement;
- increase and support a townwide therapy dog program;
- Provide grants to individuals within the community toward the purchase and training of service dogs.
“HWDF’s future goals are to expand the availability of comfort/therapy/reading dogs in our community,” Blackmur said. “We hope to support Opry’s work by developing a team of volunteer therapy/reading dogs who can regularly visit nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and libraries.”
HWDF is also planning to raise funds to ensure these dogs are trained to a high standard. “Eventually, we hope to raise enough funds to make grants available for Hingham residents who may need a trained service dog,” she explained.
Those wishing to make a donation to HWDF can click or scan the QR code posted here to reach HWDF’s PayPal Giving Fund. Checks are also welcome, payable to Hingham Working Dog Foundation, Inc., and mailed to Hingham Working Dog Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 122, Hingham, MA. 02043. All donations are appreciated.