NORFOLK, Va. — The aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford deployed on May 2, but this time, with a special pup aboard!
Sage is a 3-year-old female yellow Labrador Retriever trained to help sailors cope with operational stress.
According to the U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Sage is part of the Expanded Operational Stress Control Canine pilot program.
The Navy said the USS Gerald R. Ford will be the first Navy ship to have a canine-like Sage as part of the crew.
"The intent is for Sage to provide a unique outlet and comfort for Sailors during deployment. Animals are proven to be another form of stress relief and provide a sense of companionship," the Navy said in an Instagram post.
Sage's primary handler, Chaplain Genevieve Clark, completed 120 hours of training in preparation.
“One of the positives of having Sage aboard the ship is her help in breaking down some barriers to utilizing mental, emotional, and spiritual resiliency resources,” Clark said. “Sailors are coming to more warrior toughness events and improving their morale through the vast network of resiliency resources the ship offers with Sage now present at these opportunities.”