Hello to you this Saturday afternoon. I hope this finds you doing well. I wanted to share this wonderful story from the folks at Today about what I and so many others who share their lives with dogs or cats already know – they are healers! To me they are angels with paws. I think what the folks from Lutheran Church Charities did by bringing these dogs to folks trying to heal inside as well as out after the mass shooting in Las Vegas is just a beautiful and loving thing to do! There is a reason dog spelled backwards is God. Our Sammy was one of the first to show me here on earth God’s love….no judgement, no boundaries, no limits….just pure unconditional love.
“I came straight to the hospital from the venue at 10:30 at night, still wearing my concert clothes, because I knew there were things I could do to help the families,” Szymanski told TODAY. “It was a sigh of relief when the first dogs arrived Monday morning, because I knew the cavalry had arrived.
“I felt I had help at a time when I felt helpless.”
The comfort dogs, along with their 30 human handlers, are part of the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dogs unit — veterans used to having their “paws on the ground” after disasters, natural or otherwise.
The unit’s canine caregivers brought survivors some solace after the Sandy Hook shootings, and more recently, provided comfort to parts of Texas and Florida hit hardest by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.
And even amidst all the horror of the Las Vegas shooting, it’s amazing to see how quickly these four-legged pros can spread smiles, LCC president Tim Hetzner told TODAY.
“A key part of healing in any crisis or disaster is to be able to talk about (the trauma), and people find it easier to do that with dogs.”
Those dogs — including one, Lois, who is based in Las Vegas and a regular visitor at the Sunrise Hospital — have been busy. “Because of the magnitude of this event, just about everybody who lives in Las Vegas has been affected,” said Hetzner.
Besides working with survivors and grieving families, the comfort dogs visited a high school where several students were injured in the shooting, hotel workers helping victims’ families, and traumatized first responders.
They have also visited the coroner’s office, both to support victims’ loved ones and staffers wading in such overwhelming grief.
It’s extremely emotional work for the dogs.
The current team is being flown out Friday to be replaced by a new, rested crop that will stay through the beginning of next week.
“They come up to you and get dog hair all over you, and then just nuzzle up to you and put a smile on your face,” said Szymanski. “Every morning, as the person who supervises their visits at the hospital, I get to get my first dose.”
“It helps me process everything.”