Louie the Tauranga District Court dog has died.
The 10-year-old black labrador had been a much-respected member of the local justice team since he began his job in 2016.
Louie's role at the Tauranga courthouse was providing comfort and support for children giving evidence, often recounting traumatic experiences, in criminal matters. His uniform was a bright blue Tauranga court jacket.
Louie developed a fan base, to the point where he had his own Facebook page with nearly 700 followers. Complete strangers used to greet and pat him during his course of work.
His death was announced on Facebook last night.
The page read: "It is with the heaviest of hearts that we share the saddest news that our precious friend Louie has passed away peacefully after a sudden illness.
"Those of us that were lucky enough to know Louie, knew he was more than a dog...
"He had a wisdom in his eyes that spoke directly to you, somehow knowing what you needed to hear. Every wag of his big bushy tail spread unlimited joy and happiness...and he wagged a lot!!"
Louie had also met many politicians in his time at the courthouse, including Minister of Justice Andrew Little and National leader and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges.
In a story featuring Louie earlier this year, owner Gail Bryce - the court's victim adviser - said Louie would come into court whenever there was a trial involving young people.
"And Louie will just stay with them at their feet with his head in their lap as they give evidence. It's been fantastic. We've found he's able to keep the children calmer. They're able to give better evidence through having him with them and we're able to get through the trial more smoothly without so many interruptions."
Bryce said these cases typically involved physical or sexual abuse. Louie had taken part in at least 35 trials.
When Louie had five weeks off for surgery to remove a malignant tumour on his leg this year, his co-workers "really missed him", she said.
"All the lawyers absolutely adore him. He makes a huge difference; it's a stressful environment, especially for people working in the criminal court."
Louie was not a certified assistance dog; he did not detect drugs and received no government funding. Louie was Bryce's dog and happened to have a nurturing nature.
"He's incredibly friendly and chilled. He seems to have a sixth sense about where he's needed," she said at the time.
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