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I’m a dog person. Always have been. That’s one of the reasons I sponsored Albuquerque’s Dog Ball this year. The Ball benefited Albuquerque Animal Welfare’s spay and neuter program and I’m personally committed to the programs and associations that care for dogs and improve their lives.

But it wasn’t just me sponsoring the Ball because I’m crazy about Bruno (at left) and his furry relatives. Walther Family Law was actually the event’s sponsor. And the firm did it because dogs are becoming increasingly important in helping to make the law more humane, a goal we at Walther Family Law strongly support.

Any dog owner can tell you that dogs are sensitive to our moods and often come to our rescue when we’re feeling blue. The human/dog connection is very real and has been for a long time. But it’s just now that scientists are able to describe the mechanism that was probably responsible for man first getting his best friend.

It turns out that when dogs and people gaze into each other’s eyes, a surge of the brain chemical oxytocin, commonly known as the “trust hormone”, is released – in the owner and in the dog! This same hormone spikes in mothers’ brains when they gaze at their babies. Oxytocin enables us to forge and strengthen our social relations and helps us to stave off a number of psychological and physiological problems. Oxytocin is linked to feelings of optimism and self-esteem. And interactions with dogs increase our level of oxytocin!

One legal organization taking advantage of the calming, soothing effect that dogs can have on humans is Court House Dogs. Courthouse Dogs Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 2012. They train “facility dogs” who provide unconditional emotional support during stressful legal proceedings. They can be found resting their heads in the lap of a child who needs to testify, or simply greeting people after they go through the intimidating process of passing through the metal detector at the court house entrance. There are now over 50 Court House Dog programs in the US. One of these wonderful dogs, Cassie, is in Judge John Romero’s Children’s Court right here in Bernalillo. Judge Romero requested Cassie because he believes that “animals have a different wisdom from humans” and Cassie brings that to his courtroom.

An organization even closer to home also knows that dogs can comfort and calm. Bruno often comes to Walther Family Law with me and sits in conference with my clients. Going through a divorce is pretty stressful and talking about it can be hard. When Bruno comes into the office, I can actually see clients calming down and feeling more at ease.

Kind of funny that it’s dogs that are actually humanizing the justice system.