Page 2 - Northern Star Fall 2020 Edition
P. 2

The Northern
Crisis Center North is very excited to welcome our newest Canine Advocate, Rune! She is a three-month-old chocolate Labrador Retriever, who is owned by our Canine Intervention Specialist, Cheri Herschell.
Rune was born at Cheri’s house in a litter of 8. Her dad is a show Champion, and her mom is a 2-time National Championship invitee for dock diving. She has 4 sisters and 3 brothers. One of her sisters, Rooney, is currently training with MD Dogs Inc, a service dog training organization, to become a Diabetic Alert Dog for a child with Type 1 Diabetes.
Our goals for Rune are for her to accompany our Legal Advocates to court, as well as participating in counseling and making appearances at Crisis Center North public events. The training involved in this journey started from day 1, when Cheri began doing Early Neurological Stimulation with the entire litter. This conditions the puppies’ young forming brains to adjust to and accept changes in temperature, pressure, position, and generally being uncomfortable. What this leads to in an adult dog is an extremely stable “bomb proof” temperament, where a dog feels capable of adapting to any situation. This is the most important trait in any working dog.
Rune’s current training is focused on socialization, basic obedience, and getting her used to the various working conditions she will need to be familiar with in order to focus on her job. These are all positive association experiences, so that she is comfortable and happy no matter where we take her. Once she has shown that she is confident navigating the courts and interacting with court staff and victims, we will begin having her train with other Legal Advocates, as well as working with our counselor.
The following is a report from Canine Intervention Specialist, Cheri Herschell, on Rune’s first day in court: “Rune, Crisis Center North’s newest Canine Advocate, had a wonderful first day in court. She was welcomed with open arms by the Honorable Judge Anthony Saveikis and his courtroom staff on Monday, September 14 at the Oakdale magistrate court. Rune met lawyers, other advocates, and staff, who all thoroughly enjoyed her company. She learned to settle underneath Cheri’s chair when doing paperwork or speaking with victims about their case.
The most important lesson of Rune’s first day of court came when she accompanied a victim of domestic violence onto the stand for a hearing in the courtroom. During a hearing, victims must sit at the front of the courtroom facing their perpetrator, and often must recount the abuse they endured. This is an extremely stressful and often emotional experience for victims of domestic violence. As advocates, there is only so much support we can offer by sitting with the victim during their testimony. Rune,
with no guidance or direction whatsoever, chose to first sit next to the victim where they could rest their hand on Rune’s head. When the victim became emotional and was clasping their hands in their lap, Rune moved underneath the chair and pressed her whole body up against the victim’s legs and feet.
From a behavior prospective, this unguided response shows that Rune has already tapped into her emotions, and found her own method to support and comfort the victim in the best way she knew how. At Crisis Center North, we support our Canine Advocates by allowing them to use their intuition and natural instincts to respond to victims (with guidance when necessary). Rune’s response could not have been more appropriate. She was not intrusive or bothersome, but always in physical contact with the victim in a very calm way.
We are all very excited to have Rune begin her career as a Canine Advocate with Crisis Center North, and that she was able to
make such a difference for a victim on her first day is just icing on the cake.”
  Click Here to check out Rune’s TV debut on KDKA CBS Pittsburgh!

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