Guest post by Kimberly Beshears, Suzie’s handler.
When you picture a courtroom what comes to mind? Judge Judy’s unique personality as she sits high on the bench or Judge Caprio who called a 5 year old up to cast a verdict in his dad’s case? No matter what you think, dogs aren’t normally a part of that picture right. As both an employee of the court and a handler of a service dog I can testify to the magic made when these polar opposites come together. Juvenile Court can be a scary place but when you bring the positive, loving energy of four legs and golden fur to the building people smile more, find common ground for communication and most definitely spend time on the floor to visit with the dog.
Suzie, the full time Courthouse Facility Dog
for Orleans Parish Juvenile Court, is a doting and compassionate 2 (almost 3) year old yellow lab trained by NEADS in Preston, MA. She has far ranging skills that are summed up best by Judge Anderson “She doesn’t care why a youth is at the building or what another youth did to go before the judges. All Suzie cares about is the pure, unconditional affection provided by rubbing her head against a leg, resting her head in a lap or sitting in the attorneys chair next to a youth waiting for a hearing”. Her calming effect on the kids and the light, airy atmosphere when she is around has earned her a posh dog bed and toys in one courtroom and her own chair in two others.
Since her arrival a year ago, Suzie has visited with over 400 youth and families in the court setting. Her community outreach through the Tale to Tail Companion Reading Program, various community fairs, summer camp and school visits has impacted well over 1000 kids! In a trauma filled world of mistakes made and lessons learned, everyone deserves to be loved and supported. For clients, families and staff of Orleans Parish Juvenile Court that love and support comes from our girl Suzie; fur and all.