By Raena Doty
Arts & Features Editor
Officer Ramsey is a new addition to the FSUPD. He’s young, rather slight, with soft blond hair. It’s been reported he gives the best kisses and requests pets frequently and with no shame.
Ramsey, a 5-month-old English labrador, was officially sworn into the FSUPD as the first ever K9 comfort dog at the University July 6. The FSUPD brought Ramsey to FSU with the goal of strengthening community bonds and helping student mental health.
Corporal Shawn Deleskey is in charge of Ramsey 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He said he’s been working at the school for 10 years and he’s loved dogs all his life, and he was the one who wanted to get a K9 comfort dog for the school.
“The dog is a great tool and an outlet to make connections that sometimes I wouldn’t have been able to make if I didn’t have Ramsey with me,” he said.
Delesky said he knows of K9 comfort dogs at several schools in Massachusetts, including Fitchburg State University, Northeastern University, and Bridgewater State University.
Most people who know Ramsey know him from general appearances around the school, whether that’s through regular meet and greets, seeing him walking around, or at events.
Joseph Sturling, senior biology major, said though he hasn’t met Ramsey yet, “I think he’ll add a good energy, and I think that’s what the FSU police needs right now.”
He added as a student involved with the Pride Alliance, he’d love to see Ramsey stop by for normal meetings.
Marlee Griffin, a junior liberal studies major and an orientation leader for the Fall 2023 Semester orientation, added she thought Ramsey made new and transferring students to FSU feel better during orientation - “Everyone likes him.”
Quinn Espinosa, a junior communication arts major, said her high school had a comfort dog, and she likes seeing the same at FSU. She said she thinks he’ll help people simply by walking around and being “almost like a designated mascot.”
Delesky said he’s working on creating a website where people can put in formal requests to have Ramsey at an event, and in the meantime, if anyone emails him, he’ll do his best to have Ramsey there if it fits with their schedules.
On top of Ramsey’s regular appearances around the school, he’s also around the FSUPD as a way to comfort students who may have to go to the department for difficult reasons, Delesky said.
As the person who most wanted to get a K9 comfort unit for the FSUPD, Delesky is in charge of taking care of and training Ramsey both at school and at home, he said, and added both he and the dog are currently getting certified together - Delesky as a dog trainer, and Ramsey as a K9 comfort dog.
He said Ramsey only recently graduated puppy class and moved to the advanced obedience class, and even though it may seem fairly basic, Ramsey’s ability to listen to commands to sit, come, stay in place while Delesky is 100 yards away, or focus on Delesky while walking marks him as an advanced dog.
Delesky said he trains Ramsey both while on duty and off duty. He said on days off, training often looks like going to a big park where others training comfort dogs all come to work in a quiet space, and at school, he goes out with Ramsey for about an hour in the morning.
He also said one big goal in training is desensitizing Ramsey to new and unexpected stimuli.
“It was funny - I was walking him and the train went by,” Delesky said. “They blew that loud horn. He jumped like 60 feet.”
However, Ramsey is still a puppy, and he can’t be expected to work perfectly or for long periods of time, Delesky said.
“I used to work a lot of overtime. I still do, but I have to also be cautious of how many hours I’m working the dog,” he said, and added some days he’ll cut the day short for Ramsey’s sake.
Delesky said he is the only person allowed to handle Ramsey. If he’s around the campus and Ramsey isn’t, it’s safe to assume he’s in his kennel in the FSUPD - he may be tired, or his stomach may be upset because of an unfortunate chicken allergy.
Delesky said though he has to keep Ramsey’s training in mind when they’re not on duty, he treats Ramsey like a normal pet when at home.
“When he’s in the house I let him be a goofball,” Delesky said. “He can’t always be perfect.”
Delesky described Ramsey as incredibly loving. “Ramsey just wants to love you. He wakes up and expects nothing from you, and he just wants to give. I think that’s what I love about him,” he said.
“Animals give more than they expect. And I think that’s a great, great attribute,” he added. “People could actually learn from dogs.”
He also said Ramsey “likes to put everything in his mouth,” and added he particularly likes socks, hoodie strings, and his own tail.
Reception to Ramsey has been positive, and Delesky said he’s already seeing the positive effects Ramsey is having on campus.
He said Ramsey “has changed my perspective of this job.
“It gave me a breath of fresh air,” he said.