Date January 11, 2024
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Photos: Strengthening community relationships, four paws at a time

Elvy, the Brown University Department of Public Safety’s first comfort dog, has been barking up cheer and community connections on campus and beyond.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University Police Officer Dustin Coleman can barely take 10 steps on campus without being stopped, thanks to Elvy.

The Department of Public Safety’s comfort dog has been making friends and building connections ever since she padded onto the Brown campus in Fall 2022. And that was precisely her charge when she joined DPS — to serve as an ambassador for the department and provide a welcoming and calming presence for students, staff, faculty and the community at large.

“She helps us start conversations with students and staff that aren’t typically conversations you have with a police officer, about daily life and fun things,” said Coleman, who is Elvy’s handler. “I think people are more comfortable having genuine conversations with us, which helps when we show up to a call or a concern.”

Elvy turned 3 years old on Christmas Day, and before the University’s winter break, roughly 200 members of the campus community convened to fete her in the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center. Guests enjoyed a dog-shaped cake made by Allie’s Donuts in North Kingstown at a party emceed by iHeartRadio DJ Renee DiNino from The River 105.9. University representatives were on hand from DPS, Counseling and Psychological Services and BWell to offer support and resources to students as they headed into final exams.

Some of Elvy’s comfort dog counterparts joined the party, too, including Charley from the Warwick Police Department, Mikey from the Bridgewater State University Police Department, Sasha from the Harvard University Police Department and Traveler from the New London Police Department in Connecticut.

“It was a lot of fun, and it was great to see the relationships that Elvy has helped build in the Brown community, as well as the outside community,” Coleman said. “I’m looking forward to seeing what bigger and better things we’ll do in the new year.”