LEXINGTON, Ky. — With soft fur and a calm demeanor, she’s a source of comfort for Kentucky children going through traumatic experiences in court. 

Now, a dog named “Matilda" is a contestant in a national competition. 

What You Need To Know

  • Matilda is a courthouse facility dog working with CASA of Lexington

  • She has been trained to sit for hours comforting children

  • Matilda knows more than 40 commands

  • She's a contestant for the American Humane Hero Dog Awards 

Matilda has been a member of the staff with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Lexington for nearly three years.

She knows more than 40 commands, including retrieving a tissue or putting her head in someone's lap, according to the staff. 

Matilda’s good nature makes her a perfect courthouse facility dog, said Executive Director Melynda Jamison. 

"As soon as she sees a child, she lights up, and the child begins to light up," Jamison said. 

Matilda knows over 40 commands. (CASA of Lexington)

Matilda has been trained to sit for hours comforting children. 

“In Kentucky, children have to testify in front of their perpetrator, which, as you can imagine, can be incredibly stressful, but Matilda is there to provide a sense of comfort to them," Jamison said. "She also goes on home visits to meet the children that we work with. She can go to forensic interviews or medical exams that are necessary to substantiate sexual abuse.” 

Liz Noffsinger, CASA's volunteer manager and canine handler, has been by Matilda’s side every step of the way. 

"She has such good instincts," Noffsinger said. "She knows when they need calm. She knows when they need play." 

Matilda is a contestant for the American Humane Hero Dog Awards, along with more than 40 other dogs from around the country in the therapy category.

Win or lose, Noffsinger said it is clear just how important Matilda is to Kentucky’s children. 

"I adore her," she said. "Everybody who meets her adores her for a lot of reasons. One is that she is just so sweet and she just has such a peaceful, calming nature, but mostly because of the work that we do and the joy she brings to these kids.” 

Voting for the Hero Dog Awards is currently closed and semifinalists will be announced on May 27, according to the website.