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
A rescued dog in eastern Missouri adopted an orphaned baby raccoon as her own after losing one of her puppies during labor.
The dog, named Sasha, had been surrendered to a shelter with what was suspected of being a tumor.
But after she was rescued by a group in St. Peters called SNUGGLE (Special Needs Under Gentle Guided Love Everyday) ultrasound tests showed the lump was two soon-to-be-born pups.
Only one of the puppies survived.
Around then, a baby raccoon who’d been found under a carport was brought to the same veterinarian.
“We started off bottle feeding it and just couldn’t keep up with its needs,” veterinarian Dr. Kelly Hogan said. So they offered Sasha the job. Both Sasha and her pup accepted the raccoon as one of their own.
“Even when he started making little raccoon kind of noises, she didn’t have a problem with it,” Hogan said. “And she loves him. She’s protective of him now.”
Eventually, the raccoon will be transferred to a wildlife rescue group and then released into the wild.
As SNUGGLE’s Sharon Maag sees it, Sasha — having been rescued herself — is returning the favor.
“We saved her life, and she saved the raccoon’s life … It’s the circle of life. I think that’s the way it goes.”
Posted by John Woestendiek May 13th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, birth, dog, dogs, interspecies, kelly hogan, missouri, mother, motherless, nurses, nursing, ofallon, orphaned, pets, puppies, pups, raccoon, rescue, returning the favor, sasha, sharon maag, shelter, snuggle, veterinarian, veterinary
First Lady Michelle Obama, along with daughters Malia and Sasha and first dog Bo, made an appearance at the Children’s National Medical Center Tuesday. Mrs. Obama, once Bo made sure Santa kept his distance, read “The Night Before Christmas” to the children.
Posted by John Woestendiek December 25th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: barack obama, barking, barks, bo, bo obama, children's national medical center, dog, first dog, malia, michelle obama, obama, portuguese water dog, president, santa, sasha
They’re made by the the same company that got in some trouble when it comandeered the images of the Obama children and released two dolls as part of its Ty Girlz collection with the names “Marvelous Malia” and “Sweet Sasha.”
After Michelle Obama said using her daughters’ names was inappropriate, the dolls were renamed “Marvelous Mariah” and “Sweet Sydney.”
Oak Brook-based Ty Inc. introduced Bo, the First Dog on April 16, two days after the Portuguese Water Dog made his White House debut.
“We are very proud of the First Family and wanted to join in celebrating their choice of a family pet,” Ty chief executive officer Ty Warner said in a statement.
The “Bo” doll’s suggested price is $4.99. It auctioned Wednesday on eBay for between $5 and $139.95.
Posted by John Woestendiek May 15th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: beanie baby, bo, bo obama, bobama, doll, dolls, ebay, first dog, first family, malia, marvelous mariah, michelle obama, portuguese water dog, sasha, stuffed, sweet sydney, toy, toys, ty, ty inc., ty warner
President Obama and family — while selecting a majorly cute dog — missed out on a chance to further the cause of animal adoption worldwide by opting for a breeder-produced purebred.
Bo, the six-month-old Portuguese water dog gifted to the Obama’s by Sen. Edward Kennedy, was proving an unpopular choice among animal welfare advocates, though some tempered their remarks by pointing out that, while not a shelter or rescue dog, Bo had been rejected by a previous owner.
A litter mate of the Kennedy’s newest dog, Cappy, Bo apparently had a previous owner, but was returned to the breeder because he didn’t get along well with the owner’s other dogs.
On the bright side, that means it was a breeder responsible enough to insist on reclaiming dogs whose placements don’t work out.
“They were looking at shelters but in the end the Kennedys learned of this litter mate of their dog who needed a home, and they wanted to give the girls a gift – and here we are,” Catherine McCormick-Lelyveld, a spokesman for the First Lady, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “He moves in Tuesday.”
President Obama had expressed a preference for a shelter dog, but the family also needed a “hypo-allergenic dog because of daughter Malia’s allergies.
“…Our preference would be to get a shelter dog, but, obviously, a lot of shelter dogs are mutts like me … So whether we’re going to be able to balance those two things I think is a pressing issue on the Obama household,” the president said shortly after taking office.
“This is a missed opportunity to set a pet-adoption trend among Americans,” said Abbie Moore, executive director of Adopt-a-Pet.com. “With pet relinquishment up 20 to 30 percent due to the poor economy, pets in shelters can use all the help they can get.”
Since the Obama’s did not get the dog from a shelter, the Sun-Times reported, the Obamas will instead made a donation to a humane society.
(White House photos)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 13th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoptions, barack, bo, breeder, cappy, choice, dog, donation, gift, homeless, humane society, hypo-allergenic, kennedy, malia, missed opportunity, obama, obama dog, obamas, pet, photos, portuguese water dog, presidency, president, pup, puppy, sasha, selection, shelter, shelters, white house
In the 1930’s Bensaude, a wealthy Portuguese businessman and dog lover was introduced to the breed by friends. By then, the breed’s numbers were dwindling, and there were only a few still doing the job they were bred to do — fisherman’s assistant.
Once seen all along the coast of Portugal, the breed was prized by fishermen — for the companionship they offered, the security they provided on docked boats, and their ability to jump in the water and herd schools of fish into the nets.
They had other skills as well, such as retrieving lost tackle or broken nets, and to serve as couriers, delivering messages from one boat to the next.
The first written description of the dog dates to 1297, when a monk wrote about a sailor hauled out of the sea by a dog with a “black coat of rough hair, cut to the first rib and with a tuft on the tip of his tail.”
The Portuguese water dog — known in Portugal as Cao de Agua — is believed to be a blend of poodle, Kerry blue terrier and the Irish water spaniel.
Improved technology in the fishing industry lessened the demand for the Cao de Agua, and only a few remained in the 1930s, when Bensaude acquired one named Leao. Leao became the founding sire of the modern breed, the first litter of which was born in May 1937.
It took another 30 years for the dog to come to America. The first didn’t arrive until 1968, and was a descendant of Leao.
The Portuguese Water Dog Club of America was formed in 1972, and the breed was acknowledged by the American Kennel club in 1983.
(Source: Portuguese Water Dog Club of America)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 12th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: breed, dog, edward kennedy, first dog, first family, fishermen, information, kennedy, malia, obama, obama dog, obamas, portugal, portugese, portuguese, sasha, ted kennedy, vasco bensaude, water, water dog, white house
President Barack Obama’s daughters have settled on a pup — a six-month-old Portuguese water dog they’ve named Bo.
The dog is a gift from Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, who owns several Portuguese water dogs. The Washington Post reported the story first in its online editions Saturday night.
“Bo’s a handsome little guy. Well suited for formal occasions at the White House, he’s got tuxedo-black fur, with a white chest, white paws and a rakish white goatee,” the Post reported.
The black-and-white puppy is is scheduled to make his public debut Tuesday.
Obama’s daughters chose the name Bo because first lady Michelle Obama’s father was nicknamed Diddley, after singer Bo Diddley, the Post said.
White House aides told The Associated Press that the office of the first lady arranged an exlusive deal on the dog story with the Post. They said the dog was not in the White House as of Saturday evening.
Celebrity Web site TMZ.com also reported Saturday that the Obamas would get a black-and-white Portuguese Water Dog from the same lineage as Sen. Ted Kennedy’s pets. TMZ said the six-month-old pet was named Charlie. Instantly, FirstDogCharlie.com went online.
Obama promised his daughters, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha, a puppy during the campaign.
According to the Washington Post report — you can find a version of it here — the family met the dog a few weeks ago at a secret White House session:
“The visit, known around the White House as ‘The Meeting,’ was a surprise for the girls. Bo charmed the first family, a source who was there said. He sat when the girls sat, stood when the girls stood. He made no toilet errors and did not gnaw on the furniture. Bo has, after all, been receiving lessons in good behavior from the Kennedys’ dog trainers. These lessons have been taking place at a secret, undisclosed location outside Washington.
“When the president walked across the room during the visit, Bo followed obediently.”
Posted by John Woestendiek April 12th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: barack, bo, charlie, dog, first dog, first family, kennedy, labradoodle, malia, michelle, obama, obama dog, portuguese water dog, president, pup, puppy, sasha, white house