Coloradan comfort dogs help Uvalde community grieve

DENVER (KDVR) – Two comfort dogs from Fort Collins that belong to the Lutheran Church Charities (LLC) K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry visited Texas after the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde.

The traveling group of golden retrievers goes to areas that recently experienced tragedy and coordinates the deployment of thousands of volunteers for disaster response, crisis response, and mission projects both in the U.S. and abroad.   

”[Sites visited in Colorado were] the King Sooper shooting last March and Arvada,” K-9 Crisis Response Coordinator Bonnie Fear told FOX31. “We’ve been to Orlando, Florida after the Pulse nightclub [shooting]; we’ve been to Parkland, Florida, the school shooting there; Santa Fe the school shooting there; Las Vegas; Oxford, Michigan, just recently.”

The dogs travel from all across the country but there are two LCC K-9 comfort dogs based out of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Collins. They are 7-year-old LCC K-9 Cubby and 3-year-old LCC K-9 Devorah.

There’s something about a dog, that just makes humans feel better. 

“I think we bring that calming presence, where they can just reach down and talk to the dog hug the dog and no one’s gonna judge them and no one’s going to respond with words. Because we find they just don’t process words or questions, but they do like a hug from a dog or just to melt into their fur,” Fear said.

The LCC K‐9 Ministry embraces the unique, calming nature and skills of AKC purebred golden retrievers to interact with people of all ages and circumstances. LCC trains all their comfort dogs and handlers and they serve every day in the communities in which they are placed. When invited, they are also deployed in times of disaster and crisis to bring comfort to those impacted by tragedy, including first responders and the volunteers who serve them. 

Thoughts and prayers from a distance can only do so much, which is why LCC K-9 comfort dogs, like Cubby and Devorah from Colorado, show up in person with bright eyes and wagging tails.

“When we see that and we see that change [in] body expression or facial expression, we know that our dogs have done their job,” Fear said.

The car rides are long but the reward of bringing light into the darkness is better than any treat.  

The pups will return home and after a few days of rest, they’ll continue helping their local communities until a new community has need for a healthy injection of “paws-itivity.”  

“The reality is it’s going to happen again. We hope and pray it doesn’t, but when it does, then we [want to bring victims] that smile, that hope, and in that awful moment, they can forget about what happened and that we love them and we care about them,” Fear concluded.

LCC has also taken over the Crosses for Losses program after its founder, Greg Zanis, passed away. 

Crosses for Losses made and delivered wooden crosses to places where these tragedies happen like Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Parkland, El Paso, and the Boston Marathon.  Since LCC took over from Zanis they’ve responded to: 

  • Molson Coors Company Shooting in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (February 2020)   
  • King Soopers Store Shooting in Boulder, Colorado (March 2021)
  • FedEx Facility Shooting in Indianapolis, Indiana (April 2021)  
  • Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Shooting in San Jose, California (May 2021)   
  • Condominium Tower Collapse in Surfside, Florida (June 2021)   
  • Christmas Parade Attack in Waukesha, Wisconsin (November 2021)  
  • Oxford High School Shooting in Oxford, Michigan (November 2021)

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