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"The ceiling is the ‘woof'" : Police dog, Franklin, retires from his post

One of UNC’s most beloved four-legged friends is clocking out and heading into retirement. 

Franklin, a three-year-old chocolate Labrador retriever, worked as an assistance dog with UNC Police Officer Ray Rodriguez. 

Franklin's main role was to assist campus community members experiencing stress or trauma, as well as assisting with mental, physical and emotional interventions.

“He had a huge, positive impact during his tenure here on campus,” Randy Young of UNC Media Relations said in an email. 

Franklin came from paws4people foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to training assistance dogs. During his tenure at UNC, Franklin made his presence felt on campus by interacting with community members. 

“Franklin and his handler, Officer Ray Rodriguez, were popular campus fixtures at residence halls, campus and community events, libraries or simply spreading smiles as they walked through campus quads and interacted with UNC students and employees,” Young said in the email.  

Franklin was one of the first faces some incoming first-year students saw on campus. 

Kaylan Privette, a sophomore majoring in political science and public policy, recalls seeing the chocolate lab during new student orientation. Privette said Franklin brought her a sense of relief.

“When I first came to college, I was feeling homesick,” Privette said. “Franklin reminded me of my dog and my home, and that was really comforting.”

Privette said she saw Franklin at the UNC Hospital's Starbucks, at her sorority house and even in the library during finals. She mentioned that Officer Rodriguez said a club or group could always call him if they ever needed Franklin for the purpose of stress relief. 

Franklin's impact was not only felt by UNC students, but also by K-9 response teams. 

“We believe Franklin’s presence and our relationship with paws4people were positive, and we will weigh the value of another crisis response K-9 resource as we move forward,” Young said in an email. “The ceiling is the ‘woof.’"

Regarding Franklin's retirement, Rodriguez seems to have the heaviest heart of everyone in the Carolina community. To him, Franklin was his partner in crime. 

“I’m brokenhearted over the decision,” Rodriguez said in an email. 

Privette said students will miss Franklin’s lovable and calming aura but will never forget the impact he left on campus. 

“It’s sad,” Privette said. “It’s heartbreaking.”

As for Franklin, he will continue being a normal dog, though he will no longer interact with the UNC community as a police dog. 

His message for those he leaves behind is swift and sweet. 

“Woof woof. Woof woof woof. Woof,” Franklin said.

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