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Mayor's dog helps spread cheer at Auburn City Hall
Lila earns moniker of therapy dog for city's employees
Auburn Mayor Linda Blechinger and her dog, Lila, a 5-month-old Havanese breed, are inside the Auburn City Council chambers after Thursday night’s meeting. Lila has become the unofficial “Auburn Therapy Dog” at City Hall. - photo by CHARLES PHELPS

Lila works hard for the city of Auburn.

She walks around City Hall, checking to ensure everyone in the office is having a great day, especially Mayor Linda Blechinger.

Lila is new to her position, three months to be exact. The position wasn’t one that needed to be filled, or even available when she came aboard. She just assumed the role and is flourishing at it.

If you aren’t having a good day, Lila will find a way to turn it around, whether it is by wagging her tail or wanting you to play with her.

Did I mention Lila is a dog?

That’s right, the city’s newest employee is a nearly 10-pound, 5-month-old Havanese dog.

Lila’s owner, Blechinger, had a dog for 16 years. But after her dog died, it took her three years to want another one, she said.

Because the mayor is gone so much from home and works a lot of nights, she decided to have a dog that could travel with her.

“I really took my time and looked around, and this breed in particular (Havanese) is a very social dog and a very well-behaved, easy to train,” Blechinger said. “So I thought that would be a good fit.”

The truth is, when Blechinger saw Lila, she immediately fell in love with her.

“For me, personally, she’s a little sweetheart and I love her,” she said.

The mayor brought Lila to work and introduced her to everyone. The rest, as they say, is history.

“She, literally, went from person to person, giving them kisses and wagging her tail,” Blechinger said. “(She was) just being so happy. She loves people. She brought smiles to everyone.

“Then, it started to be where I would come into work and everyone would ask, ‘Where’s Lila?’” she continued. “So, it became part of what I do. I bring her in and she goes around to everybody, and everybody gets their kisses and hugs and they smile.”

Lila garnered the nickname as “Auburn’s Therapy Dog.”

“It’s really been fun,” Blechinger said. “She loves people and she loves other animals as well.”

Dan Pruehs, parks and leisure services director, said Lila has changed the atmosphere of the office in a positive way.

“It is one of those things where she makes us forget all that’s going on here in the office,” Pruehs said. “She is a good distraction.”

Pruehs said he and city planner Alex Mitchem like to toss the tennis ball with Lila in the office, and they get her to start barking.

“We’re dog-friendly,” Pruehs said, laughing. “Would I recommend it (having an office dog)? Yeah, I would recommend it.

“It’s a good break from the daily grind. They have no cares. She loves coming and seeing us smile and to play.”