Yesterday was a day filled with sadness and memories as those of us across the country thought about and prayed for the parents, sibling, extended family and friends of the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was with great sorrow that we remember the children that lost their lives meaninglessly to a person filled with dread.
Many of us also thought about the great work that the Comfort Dogs of the Lutheran Church Charities did to ease the pain and suffering of those same individuals. As a mother, it is difficult to imagine what it would be like to be in this circumstance. It is imaginable, however, to realize how much comfort the presence of a dog can be. Anyone that has dogs knows the unconditional love effect that a dog naturally contains and spreads around.
The Comfort Dogs are a very special group of Golden Retrievers trained to help people through life’s various crises. They do a fantastic job of absorbing people’s pain; they listen and seem to understand. This is how it was a year ago and how it is today. Two Comfort Dogs remained behind for months after the tragedy and they would go back any time to any place if invited.
That is the special circumstance behind the Comfort Dogs. Tim Hetzner, President of the Lutheran Church Charities, developed the idea to have dogs as part of a helping mission. The dogs and their handlers are trained using a FEMA-approved program. They work for no more than 2.5 hours at a time before they are allowed to simply be dogs again; keeping them fresh and preventing burn-out (for even dogs can only take so much sorrow and distress before it takes its toll. Consider military working dogs that get PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder.).
The Lutheran Church Charities provides the Comfort Dog mission across our great nation. Whether it is pathetic circumstances like Sandy Hook or natural disasters, the dogs go everywhere that they are invited spreading love and concern wherever they go.
Now would be the time to take a moment and thank God for these dogs in the quiet of your own heart. It is with great hope that no more parents will have to experience the kind of loss and sadness that the parents of Sandy Hook did last year. Thank you Lutheran Church Charities for helping so many through so much pain and sorrow. It is great to know you are there when we need you and the Comfort Dogs!