Tibet, Florida’s first courthouse dog, and Brenda Kocher, her handler

Tibet and Brenda Kocher—respectively, Florida’s first courthouse dog and the Guardian ad Litem volunteer who serves as Tibet’s handler, under the auspices of Voices for Children of Tampa Bay—outline the extensive training Tibet underwent, in keeping with the dogs provided by Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). BrendaAtMicActually, despite my high hopes, and the show being called “Talking Animals,” I couldn’t get a word out of Tibet. She was silent the entire time, leaving Kocher to do all the talking. Kocher explains CCI’s typical breeding of its dogs (75% Labrador Retriever, 25% Golden Retriever), and the TibetStudio2rationale behind that breeding, as opposed to using shelter dogs. She also describes the rigorous process by which she was evaluated and interviewed before being selected to be Tibet’s handler, and the intense training she herself underwent, conducted on the CCI Tibet&BrendaStudioSoutheast campus in Orlando. Kocher explains what courthouse dogs do, noting that she and Tibet ordinarily volunteer about 24 hours per week, and that the work they do, and where they do it, varies considerably from week to week. She reports some of the specific duties that Tibet performs, including making children more comfortable when b4s_carlton120614_14327315_8coltestifying or being interviewed about sexual assaults or other emotionally upsetting crimes. Acknowledging that Tibet’s work involves spending time with kids who are enormously upset and emotional, Kocher says she monitors how the dog is feeling and when she sees Tibet exhibiting signs of stress, she aims to wrap up the work they’re doing then, and maybe take the next day off. She also touts the virtues of becoming a Guardian ad Litem. (http://vfcgal.org, www.cci.org/site/c.cdKGIRNqEmG/b.3978475/k.BED8/Home.htm www.facebook.com/TibetTampaBay/?fref=ts)

 

email121415ALSO: I spoke briefly with Carla Wilson, who is spearheading a grassroots effort to place an initiative tied to The Greyhound Protection Act on the ballot in Seminole County. While one must be a registered voter in Seminole County to sign the petition, Wilson explains, anyone from anywhere can secure signatures for the measure, which, among other facets, would require the greyhound track there to report injuries sustained by the dogs. (www.protectdogs.org)

COMEDY CORNER: Jackie Kashian’s “Animals” (www.jackiekashian.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Prince’s “When Doves Cry” R.I.P., Prince

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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