COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Inside ThunderHawk Canine in Cookeville is a young basset beagle mix named Watson who’s full of energy.
Watson’s journey to Cookeville began with a woman named Tara Bates.
“All it took was, ‘Hey Captain, one of these days I’d like to pick your brain,’ and it went from there,” she said.
Bates is the victim services coordinator for the Cookeville Police Department. After inquiring about a service dog, she was on her way to Florida to meet Watson weeks later.
“That first night in the hotel, he jumped up on the couch next to me and just laid down there with his head in my lap,” she said.
But training Watson was something she knew nothing about.
“I was like, ‘You let them know, I will do it,” said Christie Faccinto. “I don’t care; just let me donate my time, and I’m happy to do it.”
So when Faccinto got word about Watson, she offered to train him and Bates at Thunderhawk Canine for free.
“To see Cookeville step up and be like, ‘We’re going to do this for the citizens in our area,’ I just think it’s huge,” she said. “So I was just grateful to be a part of it.”
After over two months of training, Watson is now certified and already helping the police department.
“The few victims that he’s been involved in the interviews with so far, I feel that he’s been a grounding presence for them as they are telling these really intimate details of the assaults that they’ve experienced,” said Bates.
Watson also visited local nursing homes, using his charm to bring smiles to patient’s faces.
“Hospitals, nursing homes, schools, they just touch people in a way that another human can’t,” said Faccinto.
All of that energy is something Bates knows will really help those who need it.
“We can’t undo what happened, but we can try at least to make it a little less awful,” she said.
Bates said Watson will help victims involved in personal crimes who need to have follow up interviews with law enforcement officers or detectives.