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Gentle golden retriever easing nerves for kids

Lakeway CASA adds Sophie as ambassador, training her for court visits.
Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 6:46 PM EDT
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MORRISTOWN, Tenn. (WVLT) - A gentle nudge, a tail wag, and listening ear are making Sophie, the golden retriever, a favorite with kids in the area that Lakeway CASA serves. Sophie is the canine ambassador for Court Appointed Special Advocates serving the Hamblen, Jefferson, Grainger and Sevier Counties area. She already makes appearances at special events.

Eventually, with more training, plans are in the works for Sophie to gain admittance to county courts to comfort children who must be present for cases regarding their own well being. CASA organizes a staff of volunteers who monitor the cases of children who have been removed from their homes and are in public custody. CASA intends to use more of Sophie’s soft touch to support children emotionally, especially during court visits.

Lakeway CASA Director Kelley Williams said, “The fact that the child has to go to court can be extremely intimidating and scary experience. So whatever we can do to ease that child’s mind.”

Housing and training Sophie is CASA staff member Marie Nicely, who said an area attorney donated the dog to use in the program. Nicely said Sophie is an especially gentle dog who is very good with her own children at home. “She’s really perceptive of how other people are feeling. I think she just knows.”

Sophie is making a public appearance as a Lakeway CASA ambassador on Saturday, June 26 during a special live music concert. Gates open prior to the music beginning at 7:00 pm, and the event runs until 10:00 pm. The concert is a fundraiser for Lakeway CASA’s Jefferson County Volunteer Program. The Concert for CASA is taking donations for admission, at Dumplin Valley Farm at 549 East Dumplin Valley Road in Jefferson City. This is five miles off Interstate 40 exit 417, not far from Sevierville. Games, a silent auction and food trucks will be on site.

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