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Glendale’s community outreach program led by a Labrador puppy

LISTEN: Glendale's Parks and Recreation adds a furry, four-legged member

PHOENIX — The city of Glendale’s Parks and Recreation division has added a furry, four-legged member to its community outreach program.

Ranger, a 7-month-old chocolate Labrador who is originally from Colorado, has been bringing smiles to Glendale residents for about a month now.

He was brought on to help the city increase engagement with residents and to serve as a bridge for communication.

“We wanted to do something different in the city of Glendale,” said Chris Kurtzhals, supervisor for Glendale’s Parks and Recreation Division. “So the idea was why not have an ambassador for the city be a dog?”

Kurtzhals said the goal of having Ranger as part of the community outreach program is to “bring joy and smiles to the city of Glendale.”

He added that the K9 community outreach program is likely the first of its kind for a Parks and Recreation agency in the country.

Kurtzhals said Ranger attends community events and visits city parks, recreation centers and schools. He also visits hospitals and helps Glendale residents release stress during difficult situations.

In the summer, Ranger will play a role in educating the public about pool safety. There are also plans to incorporate him into a new Junior Ranger program.

Kurtzhals said he traveled to Colorado a few months ago to pick out Ranger. He said he noticed Ranger was calm and laid down, even as his brothers and sisters were jumping on him.

“That’s when I said, ‘That’s the kind of dog I need for the program we want to do,’” he said, adding that Ranger is a “docile” dog that rarely barks or whines.

Ranger still needs to complete a few trainings, including an obedience and therapy training, Kurtzhals said, but so far “he’s doing exactly what we want him to do and more.”

“Everybody we come in contact with loves the dog, and it brings a smile to their face,” he said.

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