The Fulton Rotary Club received a canine visitor Wednesday.
Therapy dog Olive has helped hundreds of abused and neglected children in Mid-Missouri as they work their way through the judicial system. Owner and handler Lisa Groves Bax, a volunteer with Capital City CASA, shared Olive's story with the Rotarians during a virtual meeting.
Olive was trained by Brandon McMillan, host of the CBS show "Lucky Dog." She was found as a stray. McMillan noticed she was special, Bax said.
"This sweet little thing has been through a lot of training and has experienced her rough road into life," Bax said.
Bax lobbied the CBS show for a trained rescue dog to be donated to Capital City CASA, Cole County's court-appointed special advocate organization. CASA serves children by accompanying and supporting children through the legal system.
"I'm working with some very, very tough situations with kids," Bax said. "Kids that are shutdown. Kids that are in a journey that is not by their choice. I realized that I needed an ice breaker."
In 2016, Bax heard back from McMillan and the show. They offered Olive as the solution to the problem.
"We have made it our mission, Olive and I, that there will be no child walk through those courtroom doors alone," Bax said.
As Bax shared this story, Olive sat quietly in her lap.
"She's just a remarkable soul, and I get to reap the benefit of being the owner and handler to get to have her with me 24/7," Bax said.
Olive can sit with children for hours and doesn't react if a child gets too rough. Olive has visited Jefferson City Academic Center, the Rape Abuse Crisis service and local foster homes.
"Olive's very tolerant of just about anything — the only thing she's not tolerant of is a squirrel," Bax said.
During the pandemic, Olive has accompanied children on walks.
Several Callaway County CASA volunteers attended the Rotary Club meeting.
Olive works in Cole County, but Heart of Missouri CASA serving Boone and Callaway counties also have therapy dogs.
"I know what happiness and joy and calmness (a dog) can bring," Bax said.