A set of dogs, trained as comfort dogs, have hit the streets of Boston in the wake of the Marathon Bombings. Comfort dogs are not a new idea:
Debbie Custance, a London psychologist who’s studied the empathy of dogs, explained to National Geographic that during times of crisis, interactions with humans involve “expectations and judgments,” but interactions with dogs are refreshingly simple.
“[It’s] a very uncomplicated, non-challenging interaction with no consequences,” she said. “And if you’ve been through a hard time, it’s lovely to have that.”
Maggie, Addie, Luther, Ruthie, and Isaiah are all part of the K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs, trained at a Lutheran Church in Chicago. They have been a part of other tragedies across the nation:
All five of the dogs spent time in Newtown, Connecticut, last December. Two of them even stuck around permanently, becoming five-days-a-week employees at the relocated Sandy Hook Elementary School. Newtown was the dogs’ first high-profile event, but earlier this month they also went to Wadsworth, Illinois, where a school bus carrying 30 children tipped over (None of the children were seriously harmed).
I don’t know about you, but my pets have always been my respite in hard times. They’ve heard and known everything about my successes and struggles in life, and it just seems that animals have more of a sense of when something it wrong than some people!
Written by Georgianna Dolan-Reilly, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer
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