Interview with Joseph Wyant
For nearly a decade, Scout has been supporting children and their families in the Juvenile Court of Coweta County, Georgia. How was she originally “hired” for the job?
Joseph Wyant: I knew when I started in this position that I wanted a companion dog to go along with me to the office. I have always had Sporting breeds (Goldens, Irish Setter), so I was most comfortable looking there first. I found the Boykin by accident—there were several in my neighborhood. I liked the size (not too intimidating, but solid) and I liked their temperament.
What makes a Boykin Spaniel particularly suited for the work that Scout performs?
Joseph Wyant: They are a gentle, loyal, and very friendly breed. Their size makes them an excellent choice to work with children, and they are easy to handle. They are intelligent and eager to please. Scout is empathetic, which lets her pick up on kids’ emotions quickly.
How has Scout impacted the lives of the individuals she serves? How has she supported court staff?
Joseph Wyant: Immeasurably. She lets children feel a sense of normalcy in a highly unusual situation. As for staff, there would be a mutiny if I didn’t bring her to work with me. If I’m tied up, she’ll go downstairs and hang out with the staff. They made her a bed and she will sometimes go on lunch runs with them—she’s one of the gang. What we do can be emotional, and it is impossible to do the job without it affecting us. When it gets to be overwhelming, Scout is there to sit in a lap, or give a simple hug.
Is there a particular story you can share about how Scout has provided a comforting presence?
Joseph Wyant: There are lots of stories. She helps the kids she sees every day, each with their own issues. When I meet with children, it can be intimidating for them. They’re in a courthouse, they have usually been separated from their families, and they have suffered trauma. They’re meeting with a judge, which doesn’t happen every day. When I bring Scout into the room, she immediately goes up to the kids, and they smile. We take something they are unsure about and turn it into something less formal and less scary. I meet with the kids regularly, and it’s not me they ask to see—it’s Scout.
When I bring Scout into the room, she immediately goes up to the kids, and they smile. We take something they are unsure about and turn it into something less formal and less scary. I meet with the kids regularly, and it’s not me they ask to see—it’s Scout.
What does Scout do when she’s not working? Does she have any plans for retirement?
Joseph Wyant: Scout has three siblings—different breeds and ages. She likes to hang out with them (except maybe her baby brother German Shepherd Dog whom she finds annoying) and my daughter. She loves to walk—taking her throughout the week and taking her on a longer walk in the woods on Sundays. I plan on retiring in about six years, and I hope Scout can retire with me.