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Challenging Canine Talents during Assistance Dog Week

This week is Assistance Dog Week. What better way to mark the occasion than to honor all the service dogs, guide dogs, and therapy dogs busy doing what they do best - help and assist humans. Why challenge this canine talent?

Cleo is a furry version of Inspector Columbo, Dr. Phil and Jerry Seinfeld all-in-one. She uncovers missing items, listens to my problems and makes me laugh. However, the New York Times is reporting a challenge to the presence and ability of Rosie, the first judicially-approved courtroom dog in New York.

Is it work? Cleo might define herself as a guard dog, but I think she is an uncertified therapy dog. She comforts, she encourages, she gets us out of any dull mood and has us smiling again in minutes - that is a talent not all dogs possess. (Though you'll likely find many as Courthouse Dogs)

Cleo-Assistance-Dog

Would her serene ability to hold your gaze for long moments, unlike many dogs, have you saying words you didn't mean? She's good but...really? The NY Times reports that two public defenders, David Martin and Steven Levine, have raised objections regarding Rosie, the dog who helped a 15-year-old girl testify that her father had raped and impregnated her. “Every time she stroked the dog,” Martin told the Times, “it sent an unconscious message to the jury that she was under stress because she was telling the truth. There was no way for me to cross-examine the dog."

My feeling is that Rosie's interaction with the girl allowed the awkward and painful words to come out, and that any assumptions made by a jury is just that - assumptions. 

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