Pepper — Therapy

Location: Silver Spring, Maryland

Pepper is a 3 year old female black Lab, who was trained by NEADS, World Class Service Dogs and then given to me as a therapy dog for the District of Columbia Superior Court in Washington, DC. She has provided emotional support and comfort to many victims of serious crimes, such as sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence. She helped a 12 year old girl stay calm and focused as she testified against her grandfather, who had sexually abused her. She lay with her head in the lap of a woman whose boyfriend had inflicted serious physical injuries, so she could stroke her fur in court. She has eased the pain of juveniles who suffered at the hands of human traffickers. What I quickly realized though is that Pepper provides emotional support for everyone in the courthouse– parties to a case, attorneys, judges and court personnel. Each morning, Pepper greets people as we walk down the corridors. She can give high-fives, fetch a tissue box to wipe away tears, help me turn pages of a board book for children, give kisses, and perform many other tasks to make people smile. She especially loves small children and patiently lets them pat her or tug on her tail. The attached picture is Pepper sitting up on the judge’s chair in one of the courtrooms. For many people, going to court induces a host of negative emotions. Pepper has had an enormously positive impact on the courthouse community and for that reason, I believe she deserves the title of American Hero Dog.