Dogs can bring joy in even the most tragic of situations. Their comfort can ease emotional wounds which seem too vast to close. After the tragic shooting at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, service dogs are doing just that. They’re being used to provide comfort to the survivors who need it most.
Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) has generously given the community of Uvalde two teams of service dogs to give support. The dogs have been deployed to comfort families, friends, and other community members. In order to give the dogs time to rest and recover themselves, the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs arrived in two shifts.
According to LLC President and CEO Tim Hetzner, the service dogs have over 2,000 hours of training. These purebred Golden Retrievers started their training at just eight weeks old, and continued until they were 18 to 24 months old. “Training includes teaching dogs the commands of handlers, respecting the private space of individuals (such as those who are hospitalized), and to be receptive to touch and affection from children and adults they are unfamiliar with,” Hetzner told Romper. Currently, there’s over 130 LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs operating in more than 27 states.
Tragically, many children were affected by the shooting which took place at a middle school. However, the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs are excellent at dealing with kids who have experienced traumatic situations. “Particularly with children, they have a very hard time processing the trauma and grief associated with mass shootings, especially if they lose their classmates. It often takes them days to speak about it,” according to a LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs spokesperson. “The unconditional love and comfort of an LCC K-9 Comfort Dog gives children, as well as their parents or other adults, the opportunity feel the softness of their fur and the warmth of friendship received from a Comfort Dog who willingly listens without judgement.” Let’s face it, we could all use someone who won’t judge us – even if it’s an animal.
Many of the children aren’t ready to talk yet in the wake of the tragedy, but the dogs did their jobs. It’s been reported that by the end of the day, the sad children ended up smiling and hugging the dogs. It’s an tremendously heartwarming detail amidst an otherwise tragic event.
The LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs have been there when they’re needed the most. They visited New York and New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy, and went to Connecticut after Sandy Hook. While these events are unfortunate, and in some cases, uncontrollable, it must be a relief to have these four-legged friends to turn to.