How Jacob the Comfort Dog Is Helping the People of Parkland

Jacob is a four-year-old golden retriever, one of 19 comfort dogs currently in Parkland supporting the family, friends and loved ones of the victims of the horrific shooting that took place on February 14.

Jacob has made many trips like this before, as you can see if you check out his Facebook page

He was in Orlando following the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 people and injured 58 more. He was also in Las Vegas after a lone gunman shot repeatedly into a crowd of concertgoers, murdering 58 of them last year.

And now Jacob is in Parkland, along with 18 buddies, helping the community deal with the terrible shock of losing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in yet another mass shooting, this one on Valentine’s Day.

The dogs are part of a group of 130 golden retrievers, LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs, run by Lutheran Church Charities, a nonprofit that relies entirely on donations.

Comfort-Dogs

Photo Credit: Screenshot from YouTube video

The group is based in Northbrook, Illinois, and sends trained dogs to areas where disasters and other tragedies have taken place. The dogs also work in local churches, hospitals and nursing homes.

The charity was begun in 2008, after five students were murdered at Northern Illinois University. Therapy dogs were brought in to deal with the ensuing grief and their presence was so successful that it led to setting up the nonprofit.

The dogs are there for anyone who could use a hug or the feel of some warm fur. They wear vests emblazoned with the invitation, “I’m Friendly. Please pet me.”

“When someone pets one of our dogs it lowers their blood pressure and makes them relax,” said Tim Hetzner, chief executive of LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs. “This helps in the healing process of the individual and the community.”

This is backed up by scientific research: A study from the University of Florida last year found that pet dogs provide valuable social support for children when they are stressed.

And we’ve seen them in action before. Care2’s Laura Goldman brought us the story of comfort dogs (including Jacob) after what was then the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, at the Pulse night club in June 2016.

Therapy dogs can provide comfort for people in mourning, for children with special needs, and for veterans suffering from PTSD.

Golden retrievers are adorable dogs anyway, so what extra training do these canines need in order to be good comfort dogs?

Hetzner explains that the dogs come from all over the U.S. and they go through a 12- to 14-month program of socialization instruction with professional trainers. It begins when the dogs are pups, between eight and 10 weeks old.

The training involves learning not to jump or bark or display any kind of aggressive behavior.

Hetzner’s reasons for choosing only golden retrievers? “They’re good dogs by nature, they’re a lovable breed. Also, because of their fur, they leave a little of themselves with everyone they meet.” Wonderful!

Where will Jacob go next?

“Jacob will serve in Florida to provide comfort and love,” Hetzner said. “Following this deployment, he will enjoy a long period of rest and fun before returning to work.”

Photo Credit: Jacob Comfort Dog Facebook

137 comments

Paulo R
Paulo R3 months ago

ty

SEND
Paulo R
Paulo R3 months ago

ty

SEND
Kelly S
Past Member 3 months ago

so sweet!!!!!!!!!!!!

SEND
joan silaco
joan silaco3 months ago

TYFS

SEND
bob P
bob P3 months ago

Today at their school there were mixed comments by the kids. On their first half day f school. Thanks

SEND
Luisa M
Luisa M3 months ago

Very touching article... I think that most of us, the so-called "human" beings, have a great deal to learn from these beautiful creatures. Thanks to all of you for sharing and commenting!

SEND
Mostapha Z
Mostapha Z3 months ago

Great heart-warming article in a cold and a cruel world. All the power to Jacob !

SEND
Janis K
Janis K3 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

SEND
Leo C
Leo C3 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

SEND
Renee M
Renee M3 months ago

Dogs are definitely great therapy and this is a wonderful way to help.

SEND