In face of tragedy, dogs can love to the rescue

Scanning the morning headlines on the computer recently, my eyes were immediately drawn to the title “Golden Retrievers Sent to Comfort Newton Survivors.”

The article described a Lutheran charity group sending the dogs to help comfort the survivors in the aftermath of the disaster in Newtown, Conn. Tears filled my eyes as I silently watched a young girl gently stroking a golden retriever. The soft brown eyes of the dog revealed compassion and understanding to the young child, offering solace in her time of despair.

I watched in horror as the story unfolded Dec. 14 on television. My eyes often were drawn to the images of the police K-9 dogs and their handlers. What an incredible responsibility those dogs have. Often they are the first to enter a crucial situation, putting their lives on the line without question. As working dogs, they have a duty to perform, and do so willingly.

The roles of both the comfort dogs and K-9 dogs are diverse during these horrific catastrophes, yet they’re very similar.

They both are summoned to save lives. The dogs are a symbol of reassurance to the victims; their presence signifying hope in the midst of chaos. The depths of a dog’s perception in these circumstances can be infinitesimal, they just know they are needed.

While no mention has been made that I have found, I wonder whether Adam Lanza had a dog? He definitely needed one. Perhaps if he had a dog to care for, which returned his love without judgment or prejudice, circumstances might have been different.

An unvoiced, canine companion with which to communicate his darkest secrets might have provided Lanza an avenue to express his misery. Dogs do not judge, they don’t hold grudges, and they offer their love irrevocably. 

My parents divorced when I was 12 years old. Without divulging my current age, I will say that it was back in the dark ages when we didn’t have all the modern electronic devices to withdrawal into.

The divorce was a very emotional time for me. My dog, Lance, was my counselor, my refuge and my best friend. We took long walks on the bluffs behind my elementary school. When we reached the summit, we just sat and it was there that I poured out my grief. His quiet presence absorbed my sorrow and confusion and somehow made life bearable.

I cannot explain the silent understanding manifested through canine companionship. Their unconditional love resonates through their demeanor, offering comfort and hope in the darkest of times. I often ponder if their dependency on us to take care of them is indeed a reciprocal of our need for them.

We may will never know what was going on in Lanza’s head that propelled him to take so many lives. My heart and prayers go out to all the families affected by this tragedy.

For those of you who devote your time to helping others with the aid of your dog, I commend you.

But most of all, I thank the dogs for their absolute, undeniable devotion to humanity.

Charlé Thibodeau is a veterinary technician for Aspentree Veterinary Care. If you have a pets question you would like Thibodeau to answer in her column, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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