By Crystal Saxe
In November 2005 Ajax became a Therapy Dog for the Madison Fire Department’s Local 311. He is one of the first Therapy Dogs in the country working in conjunction with a Fire Department. Ajax’s responsibilities include: visiting fire stations, one-on-one therapy sessions, post incident diffusing, critical incident stress management, visiting sick and injured firefighters and their family members, and participating in local 311 charity events.
An event Ajax is participating in that is very meaningful is “Burn Camp”. This is a camp for kids in Wisconsin who have been burned. They can go to this camp and just have fun and not be judged. It’s great to see these kids light up when they see Ajax and hear them laugh when he gives them wet, sloppy kisses.
A funny story that pertains to the Fire Department happened when I introduced Ajax to the new firefighter recruits. I was explaining what Ajax would be doing for the firefighters while Ajax introduced himself to the class, one student at a time. Suddenly, there was all this commotion in the corner of the classroom. I stopped talking to find out what was going on. One of the recruits said he thought Ajax had swallowed a chicken bone! I wondered how Ajax could have gotten a chicken bone, of all things. Apparently, one of the recruits had left his lunch on the floor and Ajax, being a dog, FOUND IT. But don’t worry! The story ends well for Ajax. Turns out he did not swallow a chicken bone.
Things didn’t turn out the same for firefighter Kevin. You see, there is a tradition in the Madison Fire Department that at some point in your career you will get a nickname. Kevin didn’t know that Ajax would get him his nickname, “Chicken Bone,” because he left his lunch of the floor that day.