In Uvalde, Texas, the first day of school this year was not the same as it had been in past years. This time, students and teachers were coming back without nineteen of their classmates and two of their teachers, who were killed in the deadly school shooting in May.
Robb Elementary School, the site of the shooting, is no longer in use. Students from that school were reassigned to other schools. Some have opted for private school or online learning. Many are suffering from PTSD. Certainly it is understandable that fear, sadness and apprehension were in the air as school began.
What helped them all that first day of school this year was the presence of a group of K-9 Comfort Dogs from Lutheran Church Charities. Many members of the community, especially those from Robb Elementary, remember the blessing the dogs were for everyone, following the tragedy in May. To see them again brought happiness, encouragement, and comfort to the students and teachers. The dogs were furry friends to hug and pet, to walk with, to love.
The volunteer handlers who bring the dogs from surrounding states agree that it’s worth the effort just to see the children (and adults) smile when they see the dogs, to see them relax, and seek comfort in hugging and petting the soft fur of those lovable Golden Retrievers. The first group of ten K-9 Comfort Dogs and their handlers has gone home now, and were replaced by a new team of ten dogs and handlers. The goal is to have Comfort dogs in the community and at the school every day for the first few weeks, for any student, teacher or staff who needs a friend and companion.
As a reminder, there is never a fee for the K-9 Comfort Dogs to minister to people. They depend on donations. To learn more about these special dogs and their mission, or to support them, visit their website LutheranChurchCharities.org, and click on the link for K-9 Comfort Dogs. Many of us understand how much it helps to hug a furry friend for comfort, when we’re speaking of pets.