Sign In

Therapy Dog Award

August 26, 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.”

Register your Dog Schedule a Visit

  • Recent News

    Students Get Therapy Dog

    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

    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

    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

    Therapy Dogs At School

    Those who own a dog can attest to their ability to lift mood, improve stress and bring joy by simply being there, unanswering, seemingly all-knowing and always delighted to see you.  Therapy animals are known for their calm and comforting nature, giving people a way to relax, de-stress and interact with a loving pet.  They […]

    Read more

    Wonder Dog

    For those of us with dogs, we know they quickly become major parts of the family. You live for and care for just like one of your own children, and one dog right here in Oklahoma City is beating the odds, and helping others recover as a therapy dog, despite all of the issues he’s […]

    Read more

    Scott And Charlie

    Cherokee Middle School students may do a little more “doodling” second semester starting this month (January), but also will improve their attendance marks because of a special attraction at the school, courtesy of Principal Scott Aden. Aden, an effective, caring administrator, has acquired and will house and handle a young female Golden Doodle (Charlie) that […]

    Read more

    Hope For Veterans

    E5 Therapy opened in April with a different way to help veterans in therapy. They offer canine-assisted therapy along with talk therapy to veterans and veterans’ families in Solano County. Owner Matthew Decker is a licensed clinical social worker in Northern California, focused on helping veterans achieve their mental health goals. Along with his team, […]

    Read more