How to Comfort Newtown, CT Kids:  Doggies!

By Shlomo  Maital  

 Comfort Dogs

     How in the world does one help schoolchildren, staff members and families, from the Sandy Hook Community, Newton, CT, where last December many children and teachers were shot by a deranged killer?   How do you help them on their  first day back at school?

   According to the National Association of School Psychologists’ Communique (June 2013), you send them doggies.  A caring Lutheran Church charity ministry from Addison, IL, sent K-9 Comfort Dogs and their handlers.  “When the kids arrived at school their first day back, we were the first ones they saw.  …Some kids came to just lie on a dog or cry on a dog. Others had shut down. They couldn’t talk at all, but they just kept petting the dogs.  Then, you could see their demeanor change and they were able to return to the classroom,”  reports one of the handlers. 

    There is no complex theory behind why comfort dogs comfort.  Dogs are pure love and unrestrained affection (apart from Rotweilers and pitbulls trained by evil humans to do harm – this is a human failing, not a canine one).  In a world full of evil, dogs bring us good, and good feelings.  Can anything rival a warm puppy, to convey a feeling of ‘all is well’ in the morning – as my wife and I get from our mongrel Yorkshire, Pixie, every morning, with her wake-up licks? 

    Israel has a version of comfort dogs – soft toy dogs called “Chibuki”,  (“hugs” in Hebrew), that wrap snugly around kids’ necks and just feel good.   But I think the real thing is much better.

   Special thanks to the caring people of Addison, IL  Lutheran Church.   Let’s hope the idea of comfort dogs will spread everywhere,   wherever children and adults need friends, warm fur and a happy lick.