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Disaster Relief: Dog Bringing Comfort To Those In Need

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Have you ever asked yourself why some animals are referred to as domestic? Well, your answer could be that it’s because of their calm nature. The calmness referred to here is that they aren’t wild and people tend to have a leaning towards. Asides from the above, it has also been discovered that they serve as a relief to people suffering from various ailments like autism, cancer, and even terminal ones. However, it’s only the trained ones that can serve as relief animals to those who are in dire need of recuperation. They are often times referred to as “animal-assisted therapy.” No other factor made this possible save the natural bond that is between them and humans which is not near coming to an abrupt end any time soon. Examples of such animals are dogs, cats, guinea pigs, horses, birds, rabbits, pigs, and poultry birds. From the aforementioned animals, dogs are the most widely utilized.

Comfort to disaster victims

The human-canine bond is not a matter that should be subjected to public polls or opinions because it’s an undisputed bond that goes back thousands of years. There is a popular statement among men that states that; “Dogs are man best friend”. Well, this may not go well with cat lovers, however, the intent behind the statement is known. Before we delve into the topic before us, there’s a need to explain the difference between the term “therapy dog” and “comfort dog”. It’s very easy for you to assume that they have the same meaning. It’s only those who are in the field that truly understands the distinction between them. Therapy dogs perform their duties in non-active emergency areas.

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Areas were people are experiencing some level of anxiety or suffering from stress are perfect examples. As for comfort or crisis response dogs, they operate in emergency surroundings both manmade ones and naturally influenced ones. An organization; Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) K9 Comfort Dog Ministry, have over 10 years trained dogs of a special breed to serve as a comfort to disaster victims. They train the dogs to remain calm throughout while others pet them. Whether the victims are resided in shelters or in shared public gathering spaces, they offer a perfect calming presence. It’s discovered that their presence causes a good distraction away from the impact of the incident. This creates a soothing relief that fast-track the recovery process for those who have physical, non-physical wounds or both. An interesting fact about these dogs is that they are trained to adapt to different environments. Likewise, they are trained to associate with people who are of various age brackets starting from toddlers to the elderly ones. You may ask the question: “How are they able to align with new individuals who at the same time are strangers?” This question brings us to the next section.

Adaptation to new and strange faces

As we are aware that dogs naturally display xenophobic traits, meaning fear of strangers, it’s amazing to mention that this special breed of dogs does not exhibit such characters. These species of dogs are mostly xenophiles — they love strangers which is in contrast to human behaviors and relationships. From the several disturbing traumatic disasters that have wreaked havoc in recent times in the U.S. are:

  • The 2008 shooting at Northern Illinois University.
  • The gruesome mass shooting that took the precious lives of 20 young children and 6 staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut.
  • The tornado that occurred in Moore, Oklahoma.
  • The Oso mud
  • slide in Washington State in 2014
  • Last fall’s historic flooding across South Carolina.
  • Texas flooding and others.

One may ask: “How do these dogs get to the site of the victims” The next section clearly answers that question.

How does the Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) K9 Comfort Dog Ministry respond to these emergency situations?

The one who has the correct answer to the above question is none other than the leader himself; Tim Hetzner. He explained that once they become alerted about any disaster, they do not leave except when they are called upon. He traveled; both himself and his wife; Dona who happens to be the co-director, with nine specially trained golden retrievers to Newtown Connecticut after the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. After arrival, they used a local Lutheran church as their base. Likewise, they ensure that they exert great efforts in ensuring that they do not allow them to approach those are allergic to them. K9 teams have spent the past few days visiting schools, churches, activity centers, and private homes in the community.

Over the years, they have received wide coverage from the media. They have been featured on both NBC news and on CNN’s Anderson Cooper program. Anderson himself happens to be a big fan and supporter of the golden retrievers. With the relief these amazing creatures bring along with them that enhances recuperation, there is still hope that we will continue to see them for a long time to come.

11 February 2020

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