Puppy helps ease kids' fears in courtroom

Article by Katrina Elsken, Lake Okeechobee News at SouthCentralFloridaLife.com

"OKEECHOBEE - Family Court in Okeechobee has a special helper. Moose, a 7-month-old Dachshund puppy, is the official adoption court mascot. If a child is a little shy or afraid to talk to the judge, Moose quickly puts the little one at ease.

Moose on the Loose - the name on his pedigree - belongs to Okeechobee County Judge William Wallace. His affiliation with Family Court started one day when Judge Wallace was filling in for Circuit Judge Rebecca White. Judge Wallace saw a youngster who was hiding behind his adoptive mom. 'Go get Moose,' he told the bailiff. Retrieved from the judge's office, Moose quickly charmed the little one and dispersed any fears with a wag of his tail.

'He's so small, he's not intimidating to anyone,' said Judge Wallace.

Moose is now a regular visitor at adoption hearings in Judge White's court. The judge said she gives the children teddy bears, which usually helps calm a nervous child, but the floppy-eared little puppy makes a big difference."