As they did after the Boston Marathon bombing, the Sandy Hook school shootings and the Charleston church massacre, comfort dogs are headed to the scene of an American tragedy — this time, the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s history.
About a dozen dogs from seven states were headed to Orlando yesterday to provide comfort and encouragement to the relatives of the dead, surviving victims, their families, first responders and a stunned community.
Forty-nine people were killed and 53 were injured when what authorities are describing as a “home grown extremist” opened fire inside the crowded Pulse nightclub with a semi-automatic weapon.
Lutheran Church Charities, which began its comfort dog program in 2008, said a dozen dogs and 20 volunteers arrived in Orlando yesterday, where they will work with local hospitals and churches.
“They help people relax and calm down,” Tim Hetzner, president of the LCC Comfort Dogs, told ABC News.
“Your blood pressure goes down when you pet a dog, you feel more comfortable, and people end up talking,” Hetzner said. “They’re good listeners, they’re non-judgmental, they’re confidential.”
The program has more than 100 dogs in 23 states.
Yesterday, many of them, along with handlers and volunteers, sprang into action.
Gracie, a 5-year-old golden retriever in Davenport, Iowa, who was little more than a pup when she went to the Sandy Hook shootings that killed 26 in Newtown, Connecticut, was aboard a flight to Orlando out of Chicago.
“Her purpose is to share love and compassion with those who are suffering,” Jane Marsh-Johnson, one of Gracie’s handlers, told News 10.
“The dogs do more for those suffering than human beings can do.”
Sasha, a 19-month-old golden retriever left Hilton Head Island with her handlers, Brenda and Phil Burden. It was Sasha’s first comfort mission, though the Burdens brought comfort dogs to Oregon last year after a gunman killed nine people at Umpqua Community College.
The Burdens told the Island Packet they will likely visit with the first responders who are dealing with the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in American history.
Other dogs were responding from Illinois, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Nebraska and Texas.
While in Orlando, they will be based in Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Orlando.
Travel for the dogs and volunteers is funded by donations.
(Photos: At top, a comfort dog at Sandy Hook, by Allison Joyce / New York Daily News; below, Gracie, a comfort dog from Iowa / Lutheran Church Charities)
Posted by John Woestendiek June 14th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, church, comfort dogs, dog, dogs, families, first responders, florida, golden retrievers, gracie, hospital, lutheran church charities, mass shootings, orlando, pets, pulse, sasha, shootings, survivors, victims
Here’s a public service announcement that takes the story of Hachiko — the Japanese dog who waited at a train station for his master every day for nine years after he died — and gives it what is possibly an even more tear-jerking spin.
“The Man And The Dog” was created by director Rodrigo Garcia Saiz for Fundación Argentina de Transplante Hepático, Argentina’s liver transplant foundation.
It shows a loyal dog who follows the ambulance that takes his owner away to the hospital — not unheard of in real life — and then waits, and waits, and waits.
We won’t say any more than that, so as not to spoil the ending.
Garcia Saiz, who’s been called “one of the world’s leading Spanish language commercial directors” by Ad Week, has directed other hard-hitting PSAs worth viewing, including the distracted-driving spot “Discussion” and the anti-bullying spot “Playground,” according to o the advertising publication Little Black Book Online.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 22nd, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ambulance, animals, argentina, death, dog, dogs, fath, foundation, Fundación Argentina de Transplante Hepático, hachiko, hospital, liver, loyalty, organ transplants, pets, psa, public service announcement, rodrigo garcia saiz, tearjerker, transplant, video
It may not have been the most diplomatic of gifts, but one of Mark Lippert’s well-wishers had only good intentions when he delivered a package of dog meat for the hospitalized U.S. ambassador.
Lippert, who is recovering from an attack by a knife-wielding anti-U.S. activist, is a dog lover who regularly walks his basset hound, Grigsby, near his residence in Seoul.
The gift, delivered to Seoul’s Severance Hospital Friday morning by an elderly man, didn’t make it to Lippert’s room. Hospital rules prohibit any outside food being delivered to patients.
The gift giver said the package contained dog meat and seaweed soup, according to an official who didn’t want to be named because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media, according to the Associated Press.
Some South Koreans believe dog meat promotes health, heals wounds and can help patients recover from surgery.
The Thursday attack left Lippert with deep gashes on his face and arm and damaged tendons and nerves. The hospital plans to remove the 80 stiches on Lippert’s face on Monday and Tuesday and release him on Wednesday.
The suspect in the attack, Kim Ki-jong, 55, could face charges including attempted murder, assaulting a foreign envoy, obstruction, and violating a controversial law that bans praise or assistance for North Korea.
(Photo: South Korean conservative activists hold portraits of Lippert during a rally for his quick recovery; by Ahn Young-Joon / Associated Press)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 9th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: amabassador, animals, attack, basset hound, culture, dog, dog meat, dogs, gift, gifts, grigsby, hospital, hospitalized, knife, mark lippert, outpourin, pets, respect, seoul, south korea, south koreans, support, u.s.
Nobody knows how Sissy did it, but we’d guess it was with her nose.
The miniature schnauzer ran away from home last Saturday, and showed up about four hours later and 20 blocks away — inside the Iowa hospital where her owner was recovering from cancer surgery.
Nancy Franck has been recovering at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids for two weeks, and apparently Sissy got tired of waiting for her to come home.
“She missed mom, that’s all I can tell you. She missed mom,” Franck said.
Hospital security snagged the dog after she entered through the automatic doors and began wandering through the lobby.
They called the number on Sissy’s ID tags and only then learned, from Franck’s husband, that Nancy was a patient in the hospital.
“I thought she just wanted to go someplace, but I didn’t know where. She’d never run away before,” said Dale Franck.
Hospital surveillance tapes show the dog entering, and making her way to the elevators, where — momentarily puzzled — she paused.
“She wanted to see her mom. She was on a mission, but she didn’t know which elevator to take,” Dale Franck told ABC 7 in Chicago.
Family members arrived at the hospital, and they were allowed to take Sissy to Nancy’s room for a visit.
According to the family, their home is about 15 to 20 blocks from the hospital. Sissy had never been there before, they said.
Posted by John Woestendiek February 13th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bond, cedar rapids, dogs, finds, found, hospital, iowa, locates, mission, nancy franck, nose, owner, patient, pets, schnauzer, security, sissy, sniffs, surveillance
Mason County EMS technicians loaded Nicholson aboard, shut the doors of the ambulance and pulled out for the hour-long ride from the ranch in Mason County to the hospital in Fredericksburg.
It was 20 minutes into the ride that ambulance workers noticed other drivers on the highway waving and pointing: There was a dog on the small step on the side of the ambulance.
Buddy, a 35-pound beagle mix, had jumped aboard the moving ambulance sometime after it had left the ranch, and had been riding along since.
Tanner Brown, one of the EMT’s aboard, said the ambulance pulled over. “We didn’t have anything else to do but to load the dog up and put him in the ambulance and take him to the ER with us,” he said.
The San Angelo Standard-Times reported the story last week, after learning of the October incident from EMTs.
Nicholson was released from the hospital later the same day, and while he was there he got a couple of chances to step outside and see his dog, who was apparently tended to by EMTs and hospital workers.
“It was kind of weird,”EMT Brown said. “I guess the dog wanted to be with his owner.”
Meanwhile, back at the ranch … ranch hand Brian Wright looked around for Buddy after the ambulance left. Wright, who had called the ambulance when Nicholson began complaining of dizziness. Buddy had wandered off, which he does from time to time, so Wright wasn’t too worried.
Not until Wright got to the hospital did he learn the EMS crew had the dog — and about the dog’s 20-minute ride on the step of the ambulance.
“Two things go through your mind in a split second,” Wright said. “First, what could have happened to (Buddy), and second, you realize he is quite an animal.”
“I was impressed,” said Nicholson, the dog’s owner. He adopted Buddy about four months ago from an animal shelter in Mason.
“He didn’t have to go to the hospital with me, but he did.”
Posted by John Woestendiek November 18th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ambulance, beagle, beagles, bond, buddy, dog, dogs, ems, emts, follows, fredericksburg, hitches, hospital, jumps, mason, master, owner, paramedics, pet, pets animals, ranch, rancher, ride, tanner brown, texas jr nicholson
Bentley and Nina are together again.
Dallas nurse Nina Pham reunited with her dog, Bentley, Saturday — after her successful treatment for Ebola and Bentley’s 21-day quarantine, during which the Cavalier King Charles spaniel repeatedly tested negative for the disease.
Pham was diagnosed with Ebola and hospitalized after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan — the first person to die of Ebola in the United States — at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
She was later transferred to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., where she was declared free of the virus and released on Oct. 24.
Bentley’s quarantine ended at 2 a.m. Saturday and he was in Pham’s arms by 8:30 a.m., according to the Dallas Morning News.
“I join everyone in Dallas in welcoming Nina and Bentley back to the community,” Mayor Mike Rawlings said at a news conference at Hensley Field in southwest Dallas.
Unlike in Spain, where the first dog of an Ebola patient was exterminated, officials in Dallas showed a more compassionate response — and, given there have been no reports of dogs and cats getting sick with the disease, a more reasonable one — deciding to hold the dog in seclusion and monitor him.
During Bentley’s 21-day confinement at the decommissioned naval air base, vets wearing full protective suits brought him food and water and collected feces, urine and blood samples for tests as a lab in Dallas.
“I’d like to take a moment to thank people from all around the world who have sent their best wishes and prayers to me and Mr. Bentley,” Pham, 26, said.
“After I was diagnosed with Ebola, I didn’t know what would happen to Bentley or if he would have the virus,” she said. “I was frightened that I could possibly not know what would happen to one of my best friends.”
Pham thanked the Dallas Animal Services staff, Texas A&M University and the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and state and county health workers.
“Thank you again for helping taking care of Bentley over the last 21 days, caring for him as if he was your own and showing America that passion and love is abundant and alive,” she said.
“I feel like Bentley reentering my life is yet another reminder of hope and encouragement for me moving forward,” she added.
Bentley will turn two later this month.
(Photo: Andy Jacobsohn / Dallas Morning News)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 2nd, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bentley, cavalier king charles spaniel, dallas, dallas animal services, disease, dogs, ebola, health, hospital, nina pham, nurse, pets, quarantine, reunion, virus
It may only be a short-term one, but a dying man in a Kentucky hospital seemed to have a new lease on life after a visit from his Chihuahua.
And ditto for the dog.
James Wathen, after a month in the hospital, wasn’t doing well, and had stopped eating, hospital workers say.
Social workers at Baptist Health Corbin, trying to lift his spirits, talked to him and learned he was troubled by the loss of his dog, Bubba, who had been picked up by animal control after he was hospitalized.
Between hospital staff and workers at the Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter, Bubba was tracked down at a foster home, and — despite rules forbidding dog visits — one was arranged at the hospital earlier this month, WKYT reported.
“One of our social workers realized it was mourning the loss of the dog that was making our patient even worse and emotionally unhealthy. We pulled out all the stops and found the dog,” Kimberly Probus, chief nursing officer at Baptist Health Corbin, said.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” Probus said of the reunion.
Wathen, 73, began to cry when he saw his elderly, one-eyed Chihuahua, and then his mood began to brighten.
Bubba’s condition — he’d been emotionally distraught since their separation, and had stopped eating, too — also seemed to improve.
Hospital officials say they plan to have Bubba visit Wathen regularly, and — based on what they saw — they are also looking at implementing a new pet visitation policy.
“To see James and Bubba get back together. It was heartwarming. It’s why we do what we do,” Mary-Ann Smyth, Knox-Whitley Animal Shelter President, said.
Smyth said Bubba seemed sad on the way to the hospital, but perked up about 20 steps from Wathen’s room.
“The dog quit eating a week ago, which is very strange,” she told Today. “The dog didn’t know where James was and James didn’t know where the dog was and believe it or not, they both stopped eating at about the same time.”
By the time Bubba returned for a second visit on Oct. 14, there were visible changes in both Wathen and Bubba’s conditions.
“He’s done a complete turnaround, Smyth said of Wathen. “He’s speaking, he’s sitting up, he’s eating. He doesn’t look like the same guy. And the dog is eating and doing better now, too.”
Posted by John Woestendiek October 24th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, baptist health corbin, bond, bubba, chihuahua, dog, dogs, health, hospital, james wathen, kentucky, knox-whitley animal shelter, loss, mourning, patient, pets, reunion, separation, shelter, visits, wellness