Archive for May, 2014

Courtroom dogs

Dogs help calm witnesses in Ohio courtroom

May. 28, 2014 @ 01:11 PM

MARION, Ohio — A new program puts specially trained service dogs in the jury box to calm anxious witnesses testifying in an Ohio courtroom.

The two pooches — 6-year-old Molly B and 2-year-old Camry — are trained to lie still on the floor in the witness box to provide a more comforting environment for people testifying in the family court in Marion County, north of Columbus. Camry, a golden retriever/Labrador mix, will be a permanent addition to the court.

Ellen O’Neill-Stephens, founder of Courthouse Dogs Foundation and Molly’s handler, told The Marion Star that the courtroom is one of the first in the nation to have such a facility dog. In other jurisdictions, such dogs are with prosecutors’ offices or legal agencies.

“The criminal justice system is a very stressful process,” she said. “Scientific research shows that dogs reduce stress in humans. In particular, when a witness has to describe a traumatic event in the courtroom, many of them feel a great deal of stress. When they’re feeling that stress, it’s difficult for them to describe it to the jury.”

Kathy Clark, program and grant administrator with Marion County Family Court, said, “Animals lower stress levels. That’s demonstrated by lower heart rates.”

O’Neill-Stephens and Clark last week met with members of the legal community, mental health experts and community leaders to talk about the canine program.

O’Neill-Stephens, a former prosecutor, said the court will likely face concerns from defense attorneys about alleged victims getting sympathetic treatment by having a dog with them in the jury box.

“The judge needs to balance the needs of the witness versus any potential prejudice toward the defendant,” she said.

The addition of Camry won’t cost taxpayers a dime. The dog, his training and necessary equipment, estimated at $25,000, was provided free by Canine Companions for Independence, a national nonprofit organization that provides trained dogs to people with disabilities.

Clark said she will pay the day-to-day costs for having Camry there. He’ll be at the Marion County family court four days a week and live with Clark’s family the rest of the time.

Courthouse Dogs Foundation operates out of Edmonds, Washington. The program has helped establish 65 facility dogs in 25 states since it was founded in 2008.

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Walking in the dark

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. Helen Keller

Owney: Postal Mascot

Owney, Stuffed Dog Postal Mascot
Owney, also known as “Globe-trotter,” was a mutt found abandoned outside an Albany, New York post office in 1888. Postal workers brought him inside, bundled him in mail bags to keep him warm, and grateful Owney began his career as the unofficial postal system dog mascot.
Over the next decade Owney traveled over 140,000 miles, once even circling the globe, following postal professionals wherever they traveled. He was outfitted with a vest to which mail clerks would pin baggage tags. “American postal workers were his family,” explained the curator of the National Postal Museum. “He liked anyone who smelled like a mail bag.”
When he died mail clerks raised money to have him stuffed and put on display in a glass case — first at Post Office Headquarters in Washington, DC; then at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair; then at the Smithsonian; then in Philadelphia; then back at the Smithsonian. In 1993 he was moved to the new National Postal Museum in Washington, DC. He can still be seen there today, wearing his small doggy vest bristling with some of the over 1,000 medals and tags that he accumulated in his travels.

Eulogy to Old Drum

Gentlemen of the jury: The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it the most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog.Gentlemen of the jury: A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.

Old Drum

Old Drum, a hound dog, was shot dead in 1869 by Samuel “Dick” Ferguson, nephew and ward of Leonidas Hornsby, an irate neighbor who thought Drum had been killing his sheep.
Drum’s owner, Charles Burden, sued Hornsby (who also happened to be his brother-in-law), and the case eventually went to the Missouri Supreme Court where Burden won the case. But it was in the courtroom in Warrensburg that Burden’s lawyer, future senator George Graham Vest, delivered his famous tribute: “The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world…is his dog.”
A statue of Old Drum was erected, and still stands, on the current Johnson County Courthouse lawn (the old courthouse where Vest delivered his famous speech still stands elsewhere in town). Burden was awarded fifty dollars.
Dick Ferguson, the reported shooter of Old Drum, later moved to Oklahoma, where he himself died of gunshot wounds in the town of Anadarko.
The carcass of Old Drum is still buried at the corner of Old Drum Rd. and E. 239th St. in Cass County, MO. The more photogenic monument stands in Warrensburg.  HIS EULOGY TO FOLLOW TOMORROW.

Dog Training #3

What I’ve learned from 50 year’s of dog training, #3of 3: Most oft-used excuse, “How can I expect my dog to be obedient when he is so distracted?” Answer: Generally, obedience is only needed during time of distraction. Either train your dog or get a cat.

Dog Training #2

What I’ve learned from 50 years of dog training, #2 of 3: “I don’t need to train my dog daily. I’ll just wait until the day before class and put in extra time.” Wrong. Dogs learn by conditioning. Doing the same thing over and over…EACH DAY!