Switchyard Brewing on Walnut Street, a couple blocks north of the square in downtown Bloomington, markets itself as “dog friendly.”
On Sunday a couple of people with their dogs were soaking up a cool, sunny fall afternoon at the brewery’s outdoor tables—and they’d have been there anyway, even if a Jordy, a local canine celebrity, was not celebrating his fifth birthday inside.
Jordy’s birthday celebration coincided with a regular Sunday Switchyard event—a gathering of the BYOD (Bring Your Own Dog) Walking Club.
The now five-year-old golden retriever works with the nonprofit Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) to help comfort kids when they have to participate in stressful legal proceedings.
Jordy’s handler, Tia Arthur, is one of a half dozen case coordinators who work for CASA providing representation in juvenile court for child victims of abuse and neglect. CASA’s program recruits and trains volunteers to serve as court appointed special advocates.
Arthur told The Beacon on Sunday she handles a small case load herself and coordinates with the other CASA staff to schedule Jordy’s time when he’s needed. A standing appointment on Jordy’s calendar is a weekly appearance at the youth shelter.
When a child has to appear in court, Arthur said, Jordy will wait with them until it’s time to testify. Then he’ll sit with them in the witness box as the child holds his leash, while Arthur sits across the courtroom. That’s best practice, according to Courthouse Dogs Foundation, Arthur said.
On any given day, Jordy might have to work a few hours in a row, so she schedules time for breaks, and walks outside, Arthur said. At the end of his working day, Jordy heads home as part of the family, which includes Arthur, her husband, David, and their two kids.
Jordy was adopted into the family for the specific purpose of becoming a courthouse working dog, with Arthur as his handler. So at the start, Arthur said, it was important that she be the only person who fed him or gave him rewards—he had to learn who his “person” is.
Helping out with Jordy’s final training was Moe Kiley, a volunteer with Indiana Canine Assistance Network (ICAN)—Jordy’s a graduate of ICAN. To keep his certification, Jordy has to pass an annual public access test.
Kiley was on hand Sunday to wish Jordy a happy birthday. Jordy hadn’t seen Kiley since his training days—but the hugs and canine kisses he delivered left little doubt he recognized her.
Among the people who gave Jordy birthday wishes on Sunday was Olivia Bounds, who was there with her mom, Stephanie. Olivia has to count as one of Jordy’s biggest fans—she’s organized a couple of bake sales as fund raisers, which she has run out of her grandparents’ carwash in Harrodsburg.
Stephanie Bounds told The Beacon the family has two dogs, but they didn’t bring them along to the birthday party. They aren’t great with other dogs, she said—one is a hunting dog.
Arthur told The Beacon that all the aggression has been bred out of Jordy—he’s completely passive and won’t defend himself if he’s attacked by another dog. That means he can’t go to a dog park where all the dogs are romping around untethered. On Sunday inside Switchyard Brewery, they were all on leashes.
On Sunday, the dog-to-dog interactions among the dozen or so pups who did attend featured mutual sniffing in the standard places and some mild roughhousing that seem fueled more by exuberance than by aggression.
They all returned safe from the parade up to 9th Street over to College Avenue, down to 7th Street, and along Walnut Street back up to the brewery.