Dog News

Georgia Mayor Adds “Therapy Dog” to City Staff

by Amy Drew

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Auburn Mayor Linda Blechinger and Lila inside the Auburn City Council chambers. Photo: Charles Phelps/Barrow County News ----------------------------------
Auburn Mayor Linda Blechinger and Lila inside the Auburn City Council chambers. Photo: Charles Phelps/Barrow County News

The city of Auburn, GA — more specifically its government staffers — is darn proud of its newest employee, Lila. Lila’s job is to ensure those who spend their days at City Hall do so with smiles on their faces. Three months into this new position, her co-workers agree that she’s a natural. What’s more, she doesn’t even draw a salary from the tax payers.

Lila, you see, is Mayor Linda Blechinger’s 5-month-old Havanese. True to its common traits, Lila is friendly, happy and playful and as such, she just took it upon herself to create this new staff position.

The first day Blechinger brought Lila to the office, she told the Barrow County News, “She literally went from person to person and was giving them kisses and wagging her tail, being so happy. She loves people. She brought smiles to everyone faces.”

The staff enjoyed Lila so much, in fact, they began to ask after her.

“So, it became part of what I do,” Blechinger explained. “I bring her in and she goes around to everybody, and everybody gets their kisses and hugs and they smile.”

When Blechinger’s previous dog of 16 years passed away, it took her three years to want another, but with a job that takes her away from home and requires evening work, she eventually decided to find a dog who could travel with her.

“I really took my time and looked around, and this breed in particular is a very social dog, very well-behaved and easy to train, so I thought that would be a good fit,” Blechinger said.

She did admit, however, that with Lila it was love at first sight.

“For me, personally, she’s a little sweetheart and I love her,” she said.

Lila has since garnered the nickname as “Auburn’s Therapy Dog.”

“It’s really been fun. She loves people and she loves other animals, as well,” Blechinger said.

Dan Pruehs, parks and leisure services director, opined on Lila’s positive effects around the workplace.

“It is one of those things where she makes us forget all that’s going on here in the office. She is a good distraction.”

He and the city planner enjoy tossing a tennis ball for Lila in the office.

“We’re dog-friendly,” Pruehs said, laughing. “Would I recommend it (having an office dog)? Yeah, I would recommend it. It’s a good break from the daily grind. They have no cares. Lila loves coming in to play and seeing us smile.”