With yet another terrorist attack making news, people are desperately seeking some TLC, especially those folks in Orlando. After the Pulse nightclub was brutally victimized leaving 49 people dead and another 53 seriously wounded, 12 Golden Retrievers arrived in Florida to do what they do best: give furry comfort and unconditional love to those who needed it most.
These canine angels-of-mercy are a part of the K-9 Comfort Dogs team and are specifically trained to help those that are stressed out or full of anxiety. These dogs saw to the family members of the victim’s, medical staff on sight and just anyone that felt they needed some one-on-one pet therapy.
This organization was founded in 2008 by the Lutheran Church Charities out of Northbrook, Illinois. They were available to help deal with the terror and intense shock by the victims and people involved in the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013 and the Sandy Hook shooting of 2012.
Vice President of K-9 Comfort Dogs, Tim Hetzner, knows how effective these pooches can be at these difficult times. The dogs are there to lend a furry shoulder to cry on, to listen to people’s concerns or to just sit quietly by being a source of love and comfort.
These highly trained dogs and their handlers have visited many places such as hospitals and churches and have even attended memorial services and vigils.
There are currently 120 dogs “employed” to the K-9 Comfort team which encompasses 23 states. Although, these pups are not considered certified service animals, they do embark on a training regime that teaches them to comfort without being intrusive; no barking, jumping or getting agitated is allowed.
Well-trained comfort support dogs are also being deployed to areas such as airports, universities and nursing homes. Sometimes just the mere presence of a lovable mutt is all it takes to make a world of difference in a hurting person.
Dog’s have an innate ability to help folks lower their guard and to open up. This sometimes results in a lot of tears, but these caring dogs don’t mind getting a little wet for a great cause.
Studies have even shown that dogs can lower people’s blood pressure, help with those suffering from pain and even help calm the nerves of those people dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some doctors and therapists are now even using these dogs as part of their everyday practice.
We could all use the love of a great dog. If you or someone in your family could benefit from a visit with a therapy or comfort dog, look to your local hospital, phone directory, your family physician, or even your local animal shelter for more information on the benefits of this activity.