A team of golden retrievers and their handlers from the K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry traveled 800 miles, from the Lutheran Church Charities near Chicago, to be with grieving children (and adults) at funerals and other gatherings this week in Newtown, Connecticut.
While they talked with the handlers or prayed, adults and children often petted the dogs. Sometimes those who are grieving preferred just to spend quiet time with the dogs, receiving comfort from their presence.
Each dog carries a business card listing its name, Facebook page, Twitter account and e-mail address so that those whom they comforted can stay in touch.
The comfort dog project has been in place for four years, since 2008, after a gunman killed five students at Northern Illinois University. Now 60 dogs in six states are prepared to help out when tragedy strikes.