At no fault of a child, there are vulnerable and traumatized children confronting the unknown journey of the foster care and juvenile justice systems in our communities. Nervous before a court hearing or stressed while waiting to visit their guardian for the first time since entering state custody, children are grappling with extreme anxiety in preparation for the unknown proceedings ahead. During these events, a therapy dog can assist the isolated feelings that consume a child in hopes to ease that unknown moment.
From hopeless and homeless, Olive was rescued from the streets in Los Angeles by Brandon McMillan, host and animal trainer of the Emmy Award winning CBS show, Lucky Dog, Season 4 Episode 6. Lisa Groves Bax, a child advocate volunteer for abused/neglected children in the judicial system in Missouri, saw the need for a resource to assist the scores of children facing the daunting task of appearing or testifying in court. After extensive training with Brandon McMillan, Olive was united with her forever family in Missouri in 2016, and ready to live her purpose, certified therapy dog.
Since that time, there have been increasing requests for Olive’s presence not only in the courtroom in Cole County, but statewide in courtrooms, hospitals, child group homes, and other places assisting with child trauma and stress. Therapy Paws formed to build upon Olive’s impact and add more therapy dog/handler teams to bring comfort to children during challenging times.
The unconditional love that a dog can provide is a true testament that us as humans can learn from, and one of the many reasons it is important to help provide information to humans to prepare for a time of natural disaster in caring for our furry family members.