Even though he just met Jerri Rook less than a month ago, Ludo rarely takes his eyes off of her, always ready for the next command or word of encouragement.
The newly-acquired 2-year old Lycoming County Courthouse dog is settling into his new role as the county’s facility dog. When young children, or victims of abuse come into the courthouse, Ludo will offer a soft and calming presence to help calm their nerves and quiet their hearts, said Rook who serves as Ludo’s handler as well as secretary for President Judge Nancy Butt.
“He’s laid back, but he likes to have fun. He likes to play,” Rook said of Ludo. “He brings down the stress level … It makes the court experience less stressful … he just is a little extra something.”
Rook first met Ludo during the Canine Companion’s April training session for handlers and canines. The pair were matched immediately and since then they have rarely been apart.
Ludo, a black lab and golden lab mix, isn’t the first faculty dog owned by the county. Jedi, a white lab and golden lab mix, was the county’s first facility dog.
He was purchased by the county in 2017 but after four years and a short bout with lymphoma, Jedi passed away in November, 2021 at just 5 years old.
The young canine’s death left a void in the courthouse personnel and visitors who had become attached to Jedi over the years. In February, Rook, who was Jedi’s primary handler, felt it was time to bring a facility dog back into the courthouse.
“I could tell from the people in the courthouse we needed to continue this program. It’s helped so many people,” Rook said.
Ludo’s work life in the courthouse will be roughly 12 years and Rook hopes to be with him in some form along the way.
“Jedi will never be replaced, but Ludo will continue to do the work that Jedi and I set out to start,” Rook said.