What could be more difficult for a child who has suffered sexual or physical abuse than to have to talk about it?
That's just what most of the kids who come to Michael's House Child Advocacy Center in Fairborn, Ohio are asked to do.
Enter our superhero, Nanook, a yellow lab trained by Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) in Delaware, Ohio.
To provide a comforting welcome to children and families who came for services, to accompany children during interviews and to be available to those children in need of mental health intervention. Says Nanook's handler Cynthia Gevedon, a victim advocate and forensic interviewer with the Prosecutor's Victim/Witness Division, “Nanook is an unexpected greeter who brings a warm welcome to children who would rather not be there and who may not feel comfortable talking about their experiences. The children soon become friends with Nanook and most often choose to have him with them later in the process; at meetings with attorneys and even going to court, all the while continuing to empower them and provide comfort and support.”
Cynthia and Nanook relocated to Greene County Juvenile Court last July to continue their good work with victims and witnesses of crime in the courtroom.
Nanook has joined the ranks of an international movement of Courthouse Dogs and has been welcomed into the courtrooms by Greene County Judges in Common Pleas, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts. "Nanook is a calming force for children who have to talk about horrible things and then may have to testify about them as well. He will lay quietly by their sides or at their feet in the courtroom providing comfort and reassurance as they do what might be the most difficult thing they have ever had to do," said Gevedon.