ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - Being a 'puppy raiser' for Southeastern Guide Dogs sounds like a fun job, but it is serious business. Puppies are placed with volunteers for up to a year and a half to learn valuable social skills. They bring their puppies everywhere with them.
Which, for one dog, means spending her days hanging out at the Pinellas County Courthouse in downtown Clearwater.
Circuit court judge Linda Allan is raising a Goldador (Golden Retriever/Labrador Retriever mix) named Lumen. She is the first judge to raise a puppy for Southeastern Guide Dogs.
Lumen is training as a potential service dog, for either a wounded veteran or someone with a medical condition.
And it turns out, Lumen may be teaching a few tense humans how to get along at the courthouse.
"In many cases, lawyers who were being rather hostile to one another became more interested in the dog than their anger at one another," Judge Allan explains. "I never would have thought that she would have an influence on attorneys, something that I am always challenged to do, to make them calm down but she does."
She admits, she was apprehensive about taking on the huge responsibility of raising lumen.
"First and foremost. I am a judge. That’s my job. I didn't want to be doing anything that was interfering with that process," she explained.
Being a puppy, Lumen is a little enthusiastic, to say the least. For the most part, she sits at Judge Allan's feet during her hearings.
"I would really even forget that she was there," says Allan.
The popularity of Judge Allen's chambers has skyrocketed around the courthouse since Lumen's arrival. Many times a day, other employees will stop by to see if Lumen is available for a quick pat on the head.
Judge Allen knows her short time with Lumen will have a larger impact for someone else, but it still won't be easy to say goodbye. Lumen is going back to the Southeastern Guide Dogs facility on May 21 to begin training.
"It will be hard for me to separate from her but she has a bigger job," explains Allan.