CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — The votes are in…and a new therapy K-9 with the U of I Police Department now has a name!
In a news release, officers said their newest addition–who is still a puppy– will be named Kirby. There were just over 1,000 votes submitted in a poll to decide the pooch’s name. Out of the four options, more than half of the votes were in favor of “Kirby.”
Kirby is named after the well-known Kirby Avenue, an arterial road through campus bordered by iconic Fighting Illini athletic facilities like Memorial Stadium and State Farm Center. Kirby Avenue is a center of activity for students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors during events like home football games, Homecoming, the Illinois Marathon, Fourth of July Celebration and other community-oriented events.
And Kirby the therapy K9 plans to live up to that community-oriented namesake.U of I Police Department
Kirby is a 7-month-old Samoyed. He will join four other therapy K9s on the UIPD’s force. Those buddies include Archie, Lollipop, Rosie and Winston. They help with community outreach as well as during mental health crisis calls, according to officials.
Around the fall semester, Kirby will start his official training. But his handler, UIPD Detective Tara Hurless, said they are already working on some skills. “He is very easy to love on. We’re working on sitting, shaking, laying down. I’d love to teach him to hug. He’s still young, I think he’s still got a lot of learning to do. But he’s got a great personality to interact with.”
Kirby came from an area breeder, who Hurless connected with through a mutual friend at the Champaign Police Department.
Kirby’s laid-back demeanor is a trait that was passed down from his parents. “The mom and dad of that litter are very good with one of her friends who has a child who is autistic,” said Hurless. “So, she thought it would be really cool to donate one of the puppies to our therapy K9 program.”
The therapy dogs are regularly out on walks around the campus. They are also available by request.