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Doctor Curmudgeon® A Tail Worth Telling

By Diane Batshaw Eisman, M.D. FAAP Doctor Eisman is in Family Practice in Aventura, Florida with her partner, Dr. Eugene Eisman, an internist/cardiologist

Galahad is my cousin, a brilliant Siberian husky with two Ph.Ds. and various masters’ degrees. At the moment, he teaches International Relations at a local university and serves on two prominent think tanks.

It was at breakfast this morning that he told me a fascinating story and so I have asked him to be a guest columnist today.

Thank you, cousin.

As a canine, I have been, on occasion, subjected to discrimination. Even though I am a tenured professor, I am aware of some of the unkind looks as I pass by.

It gladdens my heart to learn of how unbiased the court system in Ventura County, California has become.

One of my students brought an article by Corinne Ramey in the Wall Street Journal. She wrote that “Comet, a 3-year-old black lab, wears a vest and bow tie to court and settles into the witness box before a trial starts.”

But Comet is not the only canine working in the courthouse.

Supervising Senior Deputy District Attorney Rachelle Dean realized that many of her witnesses were traumatized and some had disabilities. She was friendly with many dogs and so she had an idea–a courthouse facility dog program.

The canines must go through two years of training before they can receive their degrees. And then, there is another ninety days spent getting acclimated to the courthouse.

Dean began interviewing dogs. She found many canines who wanted to be court house employees. She was looking for special dogs. And the first dog she found was Star. Soon after that, Star’s sibling Trakr joined the program.

Star lives with Rachelle Dean and Trakr lives with another prosecutor.

The dogs begin their day by meeting with the courthouse staff.

Victim advocates say that is it not just children, but adults who are grateful to find a furry friend by their side. Children can even choose the bow tie that their canine companion wears.
In addition to sitting in the witness box, they are often present at witness preparation, sentencing and preliminary hearings.

I know how compassionate we canines are for those of the human breed.

Megan Diskin wrote in the Ventura County Star how incredible Star was with victims of the Route 91 shooting which occurred in Vegas. Star snuggled up to them and helped them to share their horrible stories.

People will occasionally come up to me and pet me, forgetting that I am a tenured professor. That is fine within the family.

But it is time that humans realized that many of us have careers. Besides being intelligent, we must be very stable emotionally and we have to understand how to interact socially.

I am happy to say that there are now more than three hundred dogs working in courthouses across the country.

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