Dogs can be a great source of comfort during times of grief and anxiety.
That’s why the Lutheran Church Charities created their K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry. With the help of handlers, sweet Golden Retrievers visit schools, churches, and more to bring joy and reassurance to folks of all ages going through a difficult time.
One of their most recent stops was in Uvalde, Texas.
In May 2022, Robb Elementary School experienced a horrific shooting that led to 19 students and two teachers losing their lives. The school has since closed, leaving the kids to attend other schools in the area.
Not returning to the same location where the incident happened is a good starting point for these sweet kiddos to return to school, but that alone hasn’t made the start of a new school year anxiety-free. That’s where the Golden Retrievers have stepped in.
“There was a lot of hesitancy and anxiety about getting out of the car and going into the school,” Bonnie Fear, a crisis response coordinator with the charity said. “So we placed the dogs outside, and I do believe that that did help some of the kids see that dog and go, ‘OK, well, I’m going to go pet the dog.'”
This isn’t the dogs’ first visit to the city. They first stopped by just after the incident in May but, this time, 10 dogs are staying at eight different schools in the area, each accompanied by two handlers. They plan on sticking around for three weeks.
These precious pups can be found all around the schools — some greet folks outside while others roam the halls or chill in the counselors’ offices. No matter where they are, though, they’re all eagerly awaiting to comfort whoever needs them.
“That will keep changing as the needs arise, as the kids get into their routine — and where the dogs are needed, the counselors will instruct us where to go,” Bonnie said. “Our goal is to be present with those that are hurting and in need, and we show up and just be with them in whatever they’re feeling.”
Besides being incredibly cute, dogs are proven to be a great addition to someone seeking help through therapy, something many of these children need.
“Returning to school after a tragedy such as that experienced in Uvalde, TX must be an extremely anxiety-inducing event for the children and staff,” Angela Wittinghill, a child and adolescent behavioral therapist told CNN. “Making therapy dogs available to them would be one of the best ways to help heal the wounds, a much better option than providing talk-therapy alone.”
And that’s exactly why the K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry exists!
“We get invited, we show up, and we let the dogs do their work,” Bonnie said.
Don’t forget to share this incredible charity’s work with a friend.
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