The past week produced a historic event. Unfortunately, this is not an event anyone will be proud of. Luckily, many people are coming together in an attempt to aid those who have been affected by the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. Some may be surprised at an unlikely helper en route to Florida – comfort dogs.
What Are Comfort Dogs?
Comfort dogs are a type of service dog trained to provide comfort and aid in the grieving process. A comfort dog is responsible for easing the tension after a stressful situation. In Orlando, these dogs will be used as a tool of encouragement and hope for those affected by the tragic shooting this weekend.
Training in Comfort
Also known as a therapy dog, these dogs are trained in providing affection and relaxation to those in medical facilities, schools, disaster areas, and to people with autism. They are usually trained like any other service dog but not all comfort dogs go through the training. In the United States, many companies train dogs to pass the something equivalent to American Canine Good Citizen test and pass certification tests for each specific field of therapy. Some organizations maintain strict regulations on comfort dog testing. A typical test will ensure that a dog can handle a sudden disturbance or loud noise; can walk on familiarize oneself with an unknown territory; can interact with a broad range of different people like senior citizens and those who require a cane, and get along well with children.
Why Are Therapy Dogs Used?
There have been many tests showing a correlation between well-trained dogs and positive attitudes. Tim Hetzner, president of the LCC Comfort Dogs explains, “They help people relax and calm down, our blood pressure goes down when you pet a dog, you feel more comfortable, and people end up talking, they’re good listeners, they’re non-judgmental, they’re confidential.” In order to ease the pain and suffering of Orlando residents, therapy dogs have been sent to Florida.
The comfort dogs program started in August 2008 and has expanded quickly. The program began with only 4 dogs but now maintains almost 100 dogs in 23 different states. The dogs are currently working in different hospitals, providing hope for the many victims of this weeks tragedy. LCC Comfort Dogs is funded by donations from people looking to help those in need as well as those affected by the tragedy in Orlando.