Through the eyes of a child… a courtroom can be a scary place.
On a clear, pretty day in Central Florida, a child walks into the courthouse with a Companions for Courage dog by her side. The child has been through some tough times; through no fault of her own. Someone she trusted hurt her in a very bad way. Now, today, she must sit in front of strangers in a strange and scary place – and in front of the person who hurt her – and tell these strangers her very painful, private story.
She walks to the witness stand with a Companion dog by her side. A stranger puts a book before her and asks her to tell the truth. Why would she say anything else? The lawyers and judge ask her questions; some not so bad, but some very bad. As these traumatic memories make it difficult for her to answer, she kicks off her shoes and runs her bare toes over the dog’s soft fur. This makes things a little easier; knowing her furry friend is there to comfort her and protect her if need be. Things are said, voices are loud, people are getting angry. Again, she reaches under the table and strokes the dog’s head. Just knowing a Companion dog is there stops her from shivering.
When the talking is done, she walks out of the courtroom, with her Companion dog by her side. She did a great job telling her story.
And now… the healing can begin…
That’s what Companions for Courage is all about. As a Community Outreach Program of The Animal League, Companions for Courage is about the victim and the dog. It’s a bond, and a sense of security that the animal brings to the child – to give them the confidence and courage to face that scary place.