Newtown Connecticut: Sandy Hook Elementary School was the site of a terrible tragedy. The entire town was in mourning. A team of six professional therapists were flown 800 miles to comfort the survivors of that unbelievable massacre. In alphabetical order, their names are Abbi, Barnabas, Chewie, Hannah, Luther, Prince and Ruthie. They each have their own Facebook and Twitter accounts, they each have their own business cards and they each have long ears and a tail. They’re called K-9 Comfort Dogs, and they have been helping the bereaved across America and around the world.
Two-legged therapists with years of training and experience don’t underestimate the impact of comfort dogs on people who have been through intense trauma.
Of course, anyone who has owned a dog has probably experienced a sense of understanding in their pet when they’ve been sad or stressed. The K-9 Comfort Dogs were deployed after the bombing of the Boston Marathon and one survivor summed up this recognition perfectly: “They feel what you feel”.
The program has been so successful, that there are now over 60 dogs in more than 12 states prepared to help out when tragedy strikes. The dogs come in to an emotionally charged situation and change the atmosphere. They balance the anguish, pain and fear with something loving and gentle. Studies have shown that the calming presence of a dog can physically and psychologically change the chemistry of human brain waves from the negative “beta-waves” to positive “alpha-waves” and that can be a powerful aid for post-traumatic-stress.
It seems obvious in a way, dogs help us feel good, but it took a group of amazing volunteers to create the first troupe of furry counselors and take that show on the road.
For more information, see: K9 Comfort Dogs
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