As the Boston Marathon gears up for an emotional 2014 race, some four-legged friends are on-site to help people cope with the memories of last year’s attack. Six Golden Retrievers (Luther, Ruthie, Hanna, Rufus, Maggie and Addie) are K-9 comfort dogs from an Illinois-based church organization.
“Dogs just bring a wonderful comfort,” said Tim Hetzner, president of Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs. “They’re a calming presence and allow victims to open up and talk about what happened, which is a critical part of the healing process.”
Last year, the therapy dogs arrived in Boston a day after the tragedy. They visited hospitals and comforted those affected by the bombings.
“Our goal is to bring mercy and healing to those that are not only physically affected, but emotionally affected, too,” Hetzner said.
The amazing therapy dogs first gained national media attention after the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn. The dogs visited schools and helped children cope with the tragedy. Two of the dogs, Maggie and Addie, have been permanent fixtures at the school since the shooting.
The church’s therapy dog program began in 2008 with just four dogs. The program now has about 80 certified therapy dogs in 10 states. According to Yahoo!, the pups have been sent to comfort survivors of the Moore, Okla., tornado; West, Texas, plant explosion; Prescott, Ariz., wildfire; Boulder, Colo., flood; and dozens of other traumatic events.
Hat tip: Yahoo News. 🙂