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Mike and K-9 Gabby

K-9 Gabby

My name is Mike Rygg. I am married with two children (8 year old daughter and 3 year old son). I achieved an associates degree in law enforcement and began my career in 2011. From 2011-2016 I worked as a police officer for the Sioux Falls Police Department in Sioux Falls, SD. This was the beginning of my experience with law enforcement and K9 training where I found a passion of mine. I assisted whenever I could with their training of their department K9s and was amazed by the capabilities of the dogs. In 2016 I began working with the Blaine Police Department in Blaine, MN. I have worked as a patrol officer, a patrol sergeant, and I am currently the sergeant in the administrative services division. During this time period I have also had the privilege to train police K9s with a major police K9 training company that trains/certifies police K9s and their handlers throughout the Midwest.
While serving as a police officer and patrol sergeant I have responded to, and been in command of, a significant amount of calls for service that would induce varying amounts of stress/trauma. Responding to these incidents as a first responder means that first, there is a job to do. Our community expects when we show up that an incident will be handled in a timely, efficient, and professional manner. It becomes easy to forget that these highly effective professionals are no different than those that they serve and the trauma that they experience can also affect them. After completing the calls for service, the first responders still have to process and deal with the stress, anxiety, and the experience of the incident. Over time the effects can become debilitating and possibly end careers. Mental health and wellness is very important in the first responder community and we have made significant progress in the availability of resources to help.
The ability for a dog to reduce stress/anxiety, provide affection, and to bring joy to people is such a massive benefit that cannot be ignored. As the recipient of a therapy dog, my goal will be to provide the benefits of a therapy dog to the law enforcement/first responder community and continue to support officer wellness. One of the other missions that I plan to accomplish in my personal life is to utilize the therapy dog to conduct regular visits to schools, senior living facilities, hospitals, churches, community events, etc. Providing the benefits of a therapy dogs presence to myself, law enforcement/first responders, and my home community will have an enormous impact.

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