It was a ground breaking day in 2011 in a New York court room as Rosie entered and took her seat beside the witness. It was the first time a service dog was permitted to assist a witness while testifying in New York State, and Rosie did a wonderful job. Last week, the 13 year old golden retriever passed away, but she will be remembered for her calm demeanor and ability to comfort troubled children.
Rosie, who was named after civil rights icon Rosa Parks because she was born during Black History Month, worked for 8 years with her owner as a therapy dog at Green Chimneys, a special-education school and residential treatment center in Putnam County for children facing social, emotional and behavioral challenges. But she is famous for accompanying a teen-age girl while she testified against the man accused of sexually abusing her over a four-year period. She was able to help the witness stay calm and identify her abuser which led to an eventual conviction and 25 year sentence.
“She was very intelligent,” her owner Dale Picard said. “She knew all the service dog tasks, and she could read people.” “She had a lot of small roles to play. She was a busy girl,” said Miyako Kinoshita, a farm education program manager at Green Chimneys. “She was the calmest dog you can possibly meet. … I think that was the most beautiful quality about her — she would be able to sit with a child or a group of kids and just be there for them.”
Now the history maker has moved on, but she will never be forgotten by the hundreds of people whose lives she touched by her loving and calm presence, and in her work she did well to honour the values and ideals of her namesake, Rosa Parks.