The comfort of animals


We come home from work after a tough day and take great comfort in the soft fur, purrs, and kisses of our pets. They seek us out at night and we willingly flip back the covers to accommodate them or scoot over a few inches on the bed.

Our pets are an integral part of providing comfort in our lives.

For many animals in their roles as service dogs and therapy cats, they go further than everyday comfort. They offer help and guidance with daily tasks, call attention to life-threatening situations, and access deeply hidden emotions.

And, in the past few days, they’ve come from as far as Chicago and as close as Newtown itself to offer comfort to anyone and everyone traumatized by the massacre of 20 children and six teachers on Friday.

K-9 comfort dogs Chewie (left), Ruthie and Luther, as volunteers from Lutheran Church Charities were at the prayer service in Newtown Sunday evening. (Lutheran Church Charities photo)

K-9 comfort dogs Chewie (left), Ruthie and Luther, as volunteers from Lutheran Church Charities were at the prayer service in Newtown Sunday evening. (Lutheran Church Charities photo)

A group of specially trained comfort Golden Retrievers from Lutheran Church Charities in Chicago made the journey to Newtown to provide solace to residents throughout the week. Adults and children alike were drawn to them. The dogs were at the prayer service Sunday night and will be at the funerals of several of the children this week.

Ironically, the comfort-dog initiative arose out of shooting in 2008 when five students were shot at Northern Illinois University. Now there are more than 60 dogs in six states.

Right in Newtown, Robin Olson of Kitten Associates, a non-profit home-foster based cat rescue group, 537748_500428426663747_1003969973_nstepped up the night of the shootings to open her home to children over 4 for 30-minute meet-the-kitties sessions.

She has requested plush kitties for the visitors and younger children. She calls the event “Kitties for Kids” and says it’s a way of saying thank you to the people of Newtown who have adopted cats and kittens from the group. Here’s a link to an interview with her on NBC New York, and with the Newtown Bee.

Do not underestimate the healing power of pets or the comfort they bring just by their presence.

Ironically, Charlotte Bacon, a 6-year-old who was killed Friday, had wanted to be a veterinarian since she was 2. The family said she never met an animal she didn’t like.

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About ExclusivelyCats
Sally Bahner is an expert in all aspects of cat care: Writer, consultant, speaker, instructor.

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