Therapy Dog Award

August 31, 2020

As voting continues for the 2020 American Humane Hero Dog of the Year, a crew from the Hallmark Channel came to Jefferson City last week to record Olive’s acceptance as the therapy dog winner.

Olive, a poodle mix who gained notoriety as a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate, seemed nonplussed as she sat in a Cole County courtroom under the bright lights Thursday afternoon.

She sat on a child’s lap as Circuit Judge Jon Beetem explained on camera how Olive calms and distracts children from the drama they find themselves thrust into within the court system. “We’ve worked with Olive for a number of years,” Beetem said. “She is a part of our CASA program — Court Appointed Special Advocates — for our kids in juvenile court.”

CASA is a volunteer-oriented organization made up of a network of people from all walks of life (and one dog) who believe society has a fundamental obligation to make sure children thrive and are treated with dignity and are kept safe. Its volunteers, appointed by judges, watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children. They try to make certain the children don’t get lost in legal and social service systems or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes.

Television people have a distinct idea of what courts look like, Beetem told the crew.

Their views aren’t really reflected in a real courtroom, he continued.

When Olive sits on their laps, she’s usually in a basket.

“That way, she’s comfortable and not worried about falling down,” he said. “Because little kids — they don’t have very big laps.”

Coming into court is among the most traumatic things a child has to do, Beetem said.

“By the time they get to court, their lives have been sort of turned upside down. And they don’t have anywhere to look to for comfort,” Beetem said. “One of the things Olive does — and most of her work is actually done in the hallway — is checking on kids, giving them something to focus on and helping them to relax a little bit while they wait for their turn in court.”

Having Olive in the courtroom is almost like having a Teddy bear. Olive is there. She has no agenda. She’s ready to be held and loved, Beetem said.

“It helps the children relax before they get to court, which is not relaxing,” he said. “They have a lot of anxiety. By the time we get them in here, sit them down and have Olive on their lap, they’ve relaxed a little bit,” he said. “Then we’re able to have a conversation. That’s the only way I learn what these kids are thinking.”

Voting for Hero Dog of the Year continues through Sept. 10. Voting is available daily.

  • Most Recent News

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    January 8, 2021

    When middle school students return to class on Jan. 11, they’ll find a new face at the door: Daisy. Daisy is a therapy dog and the personal pet of Rob Kreger, principal of the Rock L. Butler Middle School. The five-year-old golden retriever is not a school pet or mascot, but rather a working dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dogtor

    January 8, 2021

    Last March, Caroline Benzel, a third-year medical student, began to notice the stress and discomfort her nurse friends were feeling from the pressures of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. “[Personal protective equipment] can be really rough on the skin,” Benzel, 31, tells PEOPLE. Benzel and her 3-year-old Rottweiler, Loki (who’s also a therapy dog) hatched a […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Pups

    January 8, 2021

    When Stanley the miniature fox terrier’s owner passed away, the little dog started a ‘paw-some’ new role – bringing puppy love to some of the Gold Coast’s oldest residents. After Carinity Cedarbrook Diversional Therapist Julianne Staff adopted Stanley, he began visiting the aged care community at Mudgeeraba as a therapy dog. Therapy dogs help to […]

    Read more

    Puppy Cams

    January 7, 2021

    A nonprofit is providing an unusual form of therapy for those on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic – puppy cams! “You spend five minutes with a puppy and try not to smile,” said registered nurse Robin Lingg Lagrone. Lingg Lagrone says watching little furballs wag their tails and prance on their paws helps […]

    Read more

    Pet Committee

    January 7, 2021

    When Moore County’s school doors were abruptly closed earlier in 2020, two- and four-legged volunteers from the Moore County Citizens’ Pet Responsibility Committee (PRC) were in their 12th year of presenting a six-session Pet Responsibility Education Program for fourth-graders. The PRC quickly shifted gears and placed its program materials online as part of a home […]

    Read more

    The Right Rescue Dog

    January 7, 2021

    If your New Year’s resolution is to add a canine family member, good for you. Somewhere out there is the perfect puppy or adult dog for your family. You have a lot of things to think about when you begin to look for that new family member, puppy or dog? Large or small? Purebred or […]

    Read more

    Police Dog Attack

    January 7, 2021

    A resolution headed to the Duluth City Council on Monday could put to rest a lawsuit filed by Teri Lynn Ehlers, an employee of the Patch Motel, who was bitten by a Duluth police dog named Oakley. Former Duluth Police Officer Marc Johnson was a registered guest of the Warroad establishment May 28, 2018, when […]

    Read more

    PAWS With A Cause

    January 7, 2021

    Pebble Hill Plantation and the Thomas County Public Library are pleased to announce the upcoming Enlightening Bites program, “PAWS With a Cause,” on Friday, January 8, 2021 at noon in the Flipper Room of the Library. The program is being presented by Jeri Anderson, field representative. Anderson is recently retired from the City of Monticello, […]

    Read more

    Police Canine Team

    January 7, 2021

    Kingston Police revealed in a news release late Wednesday afternoon that they’ve been keeping a four-legged secret for roughly three months. The force announced it added a second canine unit, with the arrival of police service dog Dak this past October. He is working with Const. Jeff Dickson, while police service dog Bask is working […]

    Read more

    K9s For Warriors

    January 7, 2021

    K9s For Warriors, a nonprofit organization that provides military veterans suffering from severe PTSD, traumatic brain injury and military sexual trauma with service animals, recently changed the name of its main campus to honor its leader and founder Shari Duval. Duval began K9s For Warriors in 2011 after her son returned from two tours in […]

    Read more

    More Recent News