Sign In

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.

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Oscar The Blind Dog

    In the weeks leading up to a heated presidential election, another close race played out that had dog lovers across the country faithfully voting online every 24 hours for their favorite furry friends. For four weeks, from Sept. 10 to Oct. 9, nearly 1 million votes were cast in Garden & Gun magazine’s Good Dog […]

    Read more

    Genius Dog Challenge

    Six dogs are competing to become the world’s smartest dog – a title reserved for the pooch that learns words the fastest. Shany Dror is a driving force behind the Genius Dog Challenge, which is live streamed on Facebook and YouTube every week until December 16, when the winner will be announced. The canine challenge […]

    Read more

    Finding Homes For Dogs

    Adoptable Animal Rescue Force gives back to the community by finding the right homes for dogs. We’ve been a Teller County nonprofit, no-kill rescue since 1999. Social networking has allowed us to expand our services in recent years to include dogs coming in from high kill shelters in New Mexico and Texas. There are times […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Retiring

    Talking to police or giving testimony at a courthouse, can be a scary experience for many. Since 2014, service dogs have been allowed in the courtroom to provide emotional support for those in need. For Emery Baert, having Madison with her made a huge difference. “If she wasn’t there, to this day, I wouldn’t know […]

    Read more

    A Shelter Dog's Life

    The sound of paws and claws precedes Isabella’s entrance. She bursts out of the Worcester Animal Rescue League’s front door, dragging Sara McClure, WARL’s dog program coordinator, behind her. McClure has two hands on Izzy’s bright red leash as the pit bull mix comes barreling into the parking lot. McClure motions for me to take […]

    Read more

    Veterans Court Therapy Dog

    Howard County Superior Court II Judge Brant Parry stood in his courtroom last week and looked around like he had lost something. “You want to see her?” he asked, still looking around the mostly empty room. A few moments later, a brown fluff of fur came bounding through an open back door, prompting instant smiles […]

    Read more