CULLMAN, Ala. – In 2019, Cullman County Courthouse welcomed its newest court officer: Brooksie, a then two year old “goldendoodle” facility dog to help victims – especially children – navigate the often intimidating experience of court cases. She was trained to sense increasing heart rate, blood pressure and other indicators that a human’s stress levels were getting out of control and respond with subtle distraction techniques like nose nudges or putting her head in the human’s lap to help ground them and pull them out of panic attacks and other negative stress reactions.
Brooksie has already made a name for herself around the county, taking part in cases and visiting child advocacy facilities and schools with handler Judge Gregory Nicholas, but now she is about to become a little more famous as the star of upcoming children’s book “A Badge for Brooksie,” written by Elena Caudle and illustrated by Maggie Green. The book casts Brooksie as a young pup looking for a purpose in life and finding that purpose through helping kids.
“Children and dogs are two species with the same soul,” said Caudle. “They both instinctually love and trust until ‘taught’ otherwise, but even then, when they come together, a magical atmosphere of joy, laughter and healing exists and abounds. Very much like people, dogs need and want a purpose in their lives, and we imagine, just like people, when that job brings a bright spot to a child during what can often be a dark and scary journey through the court systems, it must also bring joy to the dog’s heart! Come, read her story and join Brooksie as she searches for a job that allows her to bring healing and comfort to the children she, and we, all love so much!”
As traumatized victims – especially children – testify in court, according to Brooksie’s trainer Ashley Taylor, “The dog’s laying their head in their lap and letting them pet the dog helps them. You know, it doesn’t feel like someone’s staring at you when you’re having to retell all these things. They, a lot of times, will say the person is looking down the whole time at the dog, stroking the dog, and it’s a little bit easier for them to get the words out. You do not get them having panic attacks as much. They typically are giving way more details because they feel at ease; you know, their anxiety is being relieved, and it’s easier for them. They feel like they’re talking to the dog, and obviously a dog is not judgmental.”
Veteran author of the “Serendipitous” series and “Billy the Kitten and Travis Too,” Caudle asked her teenage niece to illustrate the book, remarking that the “request turned out to be a wonderful decision. Maggie Green has proven herself to be a joy to work with as well as an excellent artist.”
Set here in Cullman County, A Badge for Brooksie features not only the canine star, but also artistic representations of some of our local heroes, human and canine.
“But,” cautioned Caudle, “you’ll have to buy the book to see who those heroes are! As much fun as it was to ‘personalize’ the story, the true hope is that with this story, we can help relieve some of the fears and anxiety associated with law enforcement, lawyers, judges and courthouses in the minds of our community’s children. To that end copies of the book will be donated to the Cullman County Courthouse, to select lawyer’s offices, and other child advocacy groups in our area. And as has been the case with all prior books, B.E. Blessed Publications is going to include a fundraiser benefiting children with the book launch.”
Caudle’s team will split and donate a portion of the proceeds from all individually purchased books to each of the following three organizations:
- Brooks’ Place Child Advocacy Center
- The Link of Cullman County
- Cullman County Department of Human Resources
Official release in Cullman coming soon
“A Badge for Brooksie” will officially launch on Apr. 23, 2022 with an event for the public at Karma’s Coffeehouse in the Warehouse District from 4-6 p.m.
Caudle shared, “As with any project, it’s never just a one-person deal, and there are always people to thank, and we will try to show our gratitude to as many folks as possible on the 23rd of April, but we want to make a special point to thank the Cullman Savings Foundation for making it possible to make the dream of donating these books become a reality! We are so blessed to live in such an amazing and generous community.”
Follow Elena Y Caudle Creativities on Facebook to pre-order the book and learn more about the children’s advocacy organizations to which proceeds will be donated. The public is invited to join Caudle, Green and Brooksie on April 23 at Karma’s Coffeehouse for the book launch and a live reading of Brooksie’s story. The books will sell to the public for $15 per copy, $5 of which will be donated.
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