USS Gerald R. Ford welcomes aboard therapy dog during deployment
(Gray News) – The U.S. Navy has added a very special member to the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford - CVN 78.
Sage, a 3-year-old yellow lab, was deployed aboard the aircraft carrier on May 2 as part of the Expanded Operational Stress Control Canine pilot program.
According to the U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Sage is specifically trained to help sailors cope with stress and mental health, providing a “unique outlet and comfort” for sailors during deployment.
Sage’s official title is an expanded operational stress control canine. She is the first one for the Navy.
Sage was raised and trained by Mutts with a Mission, a Virginia-based non-profit organization accredited by Assistance Dogs International.
Chaplain Genevieve Clark is Sage’s primary handler. She completed 120 hours of handler training with Mutts with a Mission.
“One of the positives of having Sage aboard the ship is her help in breaking down some barriers to utilizing mental, emotional, and spiritual resiliency resources,” Clark said. “Sailors are coming to more warrior toughness events and improving their morale through the vast network of resiliency resources the ship offers with Sage now present at these opportunities.”
Three other volunteer handlers aboard the ship also help with Sage’s care and mission.
Sage will be available to sailors during ship-wide morale, welfare, and recreation events, as well as during private therapy sessions. Her daily schedule will also be made available to sailors for general visitation and morale boosts throughout the day.
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