Encounters with Rikki: From Hurricane Katrina Rescue to Exceptional Therapy Dog

Encounters with Rikki: From Hurricane Katrina Rescue to Exceptional Therapy Dog

by Julie Strauss Bettinger


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Encounters with Rikki tells the true story of the incredible partnership between Chuck and Rikki, a very special rescue dog. Rikki first found her home with Chuck and Patty Mitchell in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Even though the golden retriever was a shy, shell-shocked puppy still adapting to the stress of displacement, Chuck recognized her innate abilities as a therapy dog. Together they bring healing and hope to recovering patients, accident victims, and the mentally ill. Soon Rikki's quiet confidence attracts the attention of advocates of child victims. Called upon to testify in court, child witnesses must recall horrific memories in the presence of their abusers; the tireless work of Chuck and Rikki allows these children to do so with a therapy dog by their side. Inspiring and heartfelt, Rikki's story illustrates the far-reaching effects of the human-animal bond.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781941758533
Publisher: Inkshares
Publication date: 01/26/2016
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 779,890
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Julie Strauss Bettinger received her master of fine arts in creative nonfiction from Goucher College in 2013. Her work as a freelance writer spans twenty-five years, primarily for publications in Florida and the southeast United States. Her writing appears in Florida Trend , Florida Small Business , FSU’s Research in Review , and Florida State Law magazine. She wrote a weekly business column for the Tallahassee Democrat and was the editor of Tallahassee and Emerald Coast magazines. For nearly twenty years she was the editor for two law-enforcement journals. Her published works include the coauthored book Blasted by Adversity: The Making of a Wounded Warrior , published by Inkshares in May 2015.

For more information, visit www.JulieBettinger.com.

Table of Contents

Author's Note xi

Prologue: Choices 1

Chapter 1 Making It 13

Chapter 2 Truth Serum 29

Chapter 3 Rescue to the Rescue 35

Chapter 4 Depo Dog 44

Chapter 5 Prescription for Healing 53

Chapter 6 Courthouse Comfort 65

Chapter 7 Reading Hood 77

Chapter 8 No Dogs Allowed 93

Chapter 9 Release 107

Chapter 10 Law Dog 126

Chapter 11 Clinical Assist 141

Chapter 12 Courtroom Canine 160

Epilogue 178

Acknowledgments 185

About the Author 189


1) ANIMAL ASSISTED THERAPY IS A FAIRLY HOT TOPIC: There are numerous feel good stories in the popular press and several books written about it. This story is about a specialty that is emerging, using dogs to comfort children when they must testify in court – many times against their sexual abuser or as a witness to a crime against a sibling or parent. Under the influence of therapy dogs, this same frightened, wary child who is having trouble recalling facts, becomes relaxed and able to think more clearly. The dog becomes a tool to build rapport between the child and attorneys, to get the truth out during depositions, hearings and perhaps even a trial.

2) BOOK'S MAIN (HUMAN) CHARACTER HAS BECOME AMBASSADOR OF ANIMAL ASSISTED THERAPY: One of the great advantages of Encounters With Rikki is that the book’s main (human) character, Chuck Mitchell, has become an ambassador for expanding applications of Animal Assisted Therapy. He is frequently invited to tell his story at regional and statewide forums – victim advocates/court personnel, medical professionals and prosecuting attorneys – all of which will provide a platform for promoting the book. Nationally, he is serving as moderator and guest speaker on webinars, which is quickly expanding his sphere of influence. And because he has made so many inroads to the expansion of Animal Therapy, he is often invited to serve on committees as an advisor. Chuck currently serves on a task force that advises the National District Attorneys Association, despite the fact that he is not an attorney.

3) ALREADY SPOTLIGHTED ON NPR AND NUMEROUS TRADE PUBLICATIONS; LINED UP FOR SERIES ON NBC: Chuck and Rikki’s work was most recently spotlighted on National Public Radio, as Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice is recruiting Therapy Dogs to work with youth. Rikki’s work in the courts and medical arena have also been spotlighted in trade publications, such as Bark Magazine (September/October 2011) and The Florida Bar Journal (March, 2010) plus local media outlets, the Wakulla News (January 2010) and WCTV Channel 6 (May 2009). She recently made the cover of Florida Bar Journal fall issue, 2014. A three-part series spotlighting Rikki is in the line up for NBC.

4) APPEALS TO PET OWNERS, JUDICIAL SYSTEM PROFESSIONALS, LAW SCHOOL AND MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS: Rikki's owner, Chuck Mitchell, gives webinars and attends forums about the concept of pet therapy in the courts. A sampling of those who have already expressed interest in the book: Adults who love pets and are inspired by their stories; professionals in the judicial system (lawyers, judges, court personnel) who are interested in this tool to help child victims testify; law school professors and their students; medical professionals who have used animal assisted therapy (hospitals are the fastest growing sponsors for AAT programs); pet owners who have considered becoming a team and volunteering in a program.

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