Comfort Dogs for Orlando

In the wake of tragedy, an offering of love and healing

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Posted in , Jun 16, 2016

Photo: Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs/Facebook

There are certain tragedies, certain dreadful events, for which there is seemingly no earthly comfort, no human comfort. The event hits so close to home that we become captives of shock and fear. 

I was feeling that way Sunday morning sitting on the couch with Gracie, our golden retriever, watching the terrible news out of Orlando. I’ve been to Orlando many times. Like so many Americans I have made that pilgrimage to Disney World and the other attractions. It feels so close, so familiar, as if it is part of a national neighborhood. And here in Manhattan there are numerous clubs and nightspots just blocks away that I encounter people walking to and from regularly, especially on a Saturday night.

My wife, Julee, joined me on the couch, Gracie between us. We stared silently at the screen. I noticed we both had our hands on Gracie, petting and stroking her. Yet I sensed we were doing it more for ourselves than for her. And Gracie seemed to understand our need for reassurance. She lay perfectly still.

Read More: Comfort Dogs Bring Hope to Sandy Hook

“Gracie would know how to comfort those people,” Julee said. Gracie, like many dogs, especially Goldens, has a heightened sense of empathy. If you are crying she will instantly come to you. If you are upset or agitated, she will put a paw on you to help calm you. It is her nature.

So today when I saw a New York Times article about comfort dogs being sent to Orlando to console the survivors of the rampage at Pulse and their families it made perfect sense. These are the same golden retrievers that were sent to Joplin, Missouri, after the tornado struck, and Newtown, Connecticut, after the slaughter at Sandy Hook, part of the Lutheran-based Comfort Dog Ministry.

In fact we did an incredibly moving Guideposts story a few years ago about these wonderful, blessed animals and the work they do. Follow this link and you will never wonder where your dog’s capacity for love and healing, care and comfort, comes from.

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