A FRIENDLY and warm canine has started her role as therapy dog at Wagga Courthouse to help make it less daunting for users.
Therapy dog Princess began her first session in Wagga today as part of the Canine Court Companion Program by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and the state government.
Announced last year after a trial program with trained therapy dogs at Manly's courthouse, the scheme was rolled out to other courts, including Wagga.
Paul Fernon, Wagga Courthouse registrar, said the calming and comforting nature of Princess helps visitors and court staff.
"What's great is that we know the research shows that having therapy dogs in any place helps reduce anxiety and stress in people," Mr Fernon said.
"In particularly courthouses, which are by their nature can be very stressful.
"Having a dog like Princess around can only be beneficial for our court ... It certainly is very beneficial to our staff as well."
Therapy dogs are quiet, friendly and happy to interact with strangers.
Princess will be in foyers, waiting rooms, safe rooms and witness rooms as requested.
At the courthouse today was Sam O'Keeffe, coordinator for Guide Dogs NSW, who said Princess was chosen because "she has a really calm demeanour".
"She loves to be patted and she's not jumpy, she just has a really nice disposition," Ms O'Keeffe said.
"We're hoping she'd bring less anxiety into the court environment."
The program is at the courthouse from Tuesday to Friday for 90 minutes each day.
The program is set to introduce another dog in the near future and Guide Dogs NSW is calling for volunteers who may be able to spare one morning a week.
- More about the Canine Court Companion Program online.
In other news
While you're with us, did you know that you can now receive updates straight to you inbox each day at 6am from The Daily Advertiser? To make sure you're up to date with all the Wagga news sign up here.