There is no way to adequately cope with the tragedy that befell Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last week, but multiple groups of unconventional “therapists” have arrived on the scene to try and give some comfort. Specially trained therapy dogs, and their handlers, have been arriving over the past few days to provide some relief to grieving children and adults. At least three different groups have brought in “therapy” dogs to meet with the residents and offer solace. The dogs have attended memorials, church services, vigils and just spent time with residents.
Among the groups are the Massachusetts based K-9’s For Kids Pediatric Therapy Dogs
, the Hudson Valley Golden Retrievers Club
, and the Chicago based K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry at Lutheran Church Charities
. Much has been written about the unique human-canine bond and it has never been more pronounced then now. The dogs are non-judgmental and offer an absolute selfless love and concern that is conveyed to whoever is interacting with them. Whether the person is crying, talking to them or just quietly petting them, dogs allow a release helping their person to grieve and receive a little bit of comfort. The reaction to the dogs has been overwhelming by all accounts. Parents are saying they have seen their child smile for the first time in days, and adults are petting and hugging the dogs, getting a moment’s respite from the horrific events of the past week.
The dogs are all specially trained to be “therapy” or “comfort” dogs. They are trained to be good canine citizens, and to not bark. The dog’s calm demeanor and ability to sense who needs them the most at any given time helps to create a unique form of therapy. People feel they can open up to a dog, let go a little and by doing so they are able to start the grieving process. The images captured by The New York Daily News
show some of the children’s and dog’s reactions to each other, illustrating the comfort these dogs are providing.
There are no words we can write that will relieve the suffering; we only hope that these dogs provide a moment of relief in the most trying of times. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims.