With just some rope and lacrosse balls, a young girl is on a mission to create simple – but very welcome – toys for police canines across the state.
Mia Phinney, of New Britain, started making the toys after meeting Berlin K-9 Officer Aimee Krzykowski at a Hartford Wolf Pack game, where a fundraiser was being held for the officer’s cancer treatment.
At first, Phinney brought some toys with her father and dropped them off at the department. The gesture was so well received that the youngster decided to make toys herself so she could keep coming back.
Krzykowski suggested making the toys canine officers learn to create while in training. As simple as they are, they’re perfect for the high-energy police dogs like her current partner, Casner, who will play tug-of-war and fetch with them.
Casner was even able to show off his sniffing skills by finding one of the toys after Phinney hid it while he wasn’t watching.
Since then, Phinney has created toys for around a dozen police canines statewide, including in Farmington, New Haven, Wilton and for state police dogs.
Dogs are her favorite animal and have always been a major part of her life, Phinney said, and she’d love to be able to work with them when she grows up, possibly even as a police officer. “It would definitely take a lot of work and a lot of skills to be able to do that,” she said.
Her father, Denney Phinney, said he’s proud to see his daughter finding a passion at such a young age, while seeing that police officers are just people and their canine partners aren’t so different from the dogs she has at home.
“All the officers we've met so far have been so welcoming of what she’s doing,” he said.
As for Casner, Krzykowski said he plays with his new toy every day. She hopes to see Phinney continue to bring toys to canines across the state.
“To be able to help out these police dogs in so many communities – it’s a great goal that she's come up with. I'm amazed with the interactions that she’s been able to have,” Krzykowski said. “It’s a good thing for children to be able to interact with police officers and see them in a positive light.”
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