A shooting at a high school in Great Mills, Maryland, shook a small community to its core, and as students and staff returned to school this week, a group of furry friends was waiting there to comfort them.
Two weeks ago, while at the Global Pet Expo, my phone started blowing up. I had no idea what was going on, but slowly, and then at lightning speed, I made sense of what the text messages I was reading meant: the high school five minutes from my house had a shooter, and the situation was uncertain.
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My son’s elementary school is only minutes away, and was under lockdown as well. There I was, states away, while the unimaginable happened–right in my own community. Many of the 10th, 11th and 12th graders there were students that I’d taught years ago, and I was sick to my stomach. The event would end in the death of two high school students and the injuring of a third, and leave this community rocked.
Those brave students and staff returned to school yesterday, and as they did, they had some of the most amazing comfort friends waiting for them. The Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry brought a hoard of Golden Retrievers and their calming comfort to the staff and students of this strong and resilient school body.
LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs are service animals trained to engage with people of all ages and situations of suffering. They are coached and trained and live in the homes of assigned caregivers who love them and help bring them to communities all over the country to serve those who are in crisis. They’ve been in New York and New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy left devastation, as well as in Sandy Hook, Connecticut when elementary children lost their lives in a shooting.
Their two training facilities are in Illinois and Nebraska, and their services are free–they come from the donations of people who believe in their work and what they do. If you’d like to donate specifically to the community of Great Mills, and the families and students who have been affected, you can do so here, to help offset the cost of this service our furriest friends are offering.
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Judging from the looks of the faces of so many of my community members as they returned back to school this week, it’s obvious that the work of these sweet dogs and their caregivers is priceless–and as one who calls Great Mills home, I’m thankful.