Dogs comfort Newtown, CT children - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Dogs comfort Newtown, CT children


CNN - Nine golden retrievers on the march. They are making their way into a recreation center in Newtown, Connecticut for an emotional rescue, to help comfort the children who survived the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary and other children in town.

The therapeutic canines are sponsored and trained by Lutheran Church Charities were transported in a van for a 900 mile ride from Illinois. "A comfort dog is one who brings comfort to other people, when they're suffering or hurting; or brings happiness to people, helps people process their grief," said Tim Hetzner of Lutheran Church Charities. "They are specially trained. These are all trained service dogs. We don't use them with disabled, but then we use that training and then we train them additionally to work with all different age groups and people."

"To some people, we've seen this with children, it brings a sense of calmness in a time of confusion for them during this period. To some it helps them process their grief, they'll start crying and they'll hug the dog and to some children they'll come up sad and they'll walk away happy."

Training begins when the dogs are just five-and-a-half weeks old. "We buy puppies at five-and-a-half weeks and turn them upside down in how their temperament is and from that point on," Hetzner said.

Workers initially screen puppies to see if they can be relaxed in that upside-down position. Then a trainer works with them one-on-one for the next eight months to a year.

"Our dogs were a month ago when Sandy hit, we were out in New York and New Jersey," Hetzner said. "We have been in Indiana with the flooding. We had dogs out in Joplin, Missouri."


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