Tim Hetzner, president of K-9 Comfort Dogs, says dogs are great counselors, because they are good listeners, they keep it confidential, and they offer affection to everyone unconditionally.
In Orlando this week, in a community that suffered the country’s deadliest mass shooting, one extraordinary group sent a unique team that is specially trained to respond in such situations. They are the K-9 Comfort Dogs of Lutheran Church Charities.
The animals and their handlers are part of a unique ministry that trains Golden Retrievers to bring comfort and healing to people in need of emotional support. The dogs are good listeners, non-judgmental and have an instinct to know when someone is hurting.
Generally, the K-9 Comfort Dogs work in their local parishes, helping humans who have experienced a traumatic event, such as a critical illness, or death of a loved one. They are great at working with special needs children, and residents of nursing homes. But when disaster strikes, Lutheran Church Charities is ready to send in a team of dogs and handlers to bring mercy and compassion to those affected, but they go only where they are invited.
On Monday, the day after the shooting, in response to an invitation from a local church, twelve Comfort Dogs and twenty volunteers, from seven states, arrived in Orlando, to minister to the survivors, the families, and first responders.
Supporting victims in the aftermath of a violent attack is nothing new to many of the Retrievers and their handlers. A team was dispatched to Newtown, Connecticut, after the Sandy Hook shootings, to Massachusetts after the Boston marathon bombing. And they helped victims cope after the mass shooting at an Oregon community college last year. Interacting with these beautiful and highly trained dogs is giving people in Orlando a chance to step back from the sadness and fear they feel and to move forward in the healing process.
K-9 Comfort Dogs never charge a fee for their service; they depend on donations. To learn more about these special dogs and their mission, or to make a contribution to help support them, visit the website, LutheranChurchcharities.org and click on the link for K-9 Comfort Dogs.
Many of us know all too well how much it helps to hug a furry friend for comfort, when we’re speaking of pets.