Eleven dogs from seven states have converged on Orlando to offer comfort and support to the people impacted by last weekend’s tragedy at Pulse.
The Golden Retrievers are all part of the Lutheran Church’s K-9 Comfort Dogs charity program. The dogs, along with their 19 caregivers, came from Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Texas.
Eight years ago, the Comfort Dogs program started with just four dogs, but has now grown to include over 200 dogs in 23 states. Although the program does not employ professional counselors, the dogs make pretty darn good listeners. They are non-judgmental and don’t talk back.
The dogs start in a certification program when they are just 8 weeks old, completing 12 – 14 months of training before they are released into the field. The program has served people following the Sandy Hook shootings, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the death of K-9 Jethro in my hometown of Canton. They help out after natural disasters such as floods and tornadoes. In addition, they make numerous visits to people experiencing personal tragedy or intense stress.
The group does not charge for their services, but accepts donations to help cover their costs.
Our prayers go out to the LGBT community and to the citizens of Orlando on their unimaginable losses.
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!