Service dog with children

Photo: K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs

Grief counseling on four legs

The nine golden retrievers sent by the Lutheran Church Charities made their first stop Sunday at Christ the King Lutheran Church, which held funerals this week for two children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The K-9 Parish Comfort Dog program began in 2008 at Northern Illinois University after a gunman killed five students. Today, the initiative has grown from just a few dogs in the Chicago area to 60 dogs in six states.

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Service dogs and handlers

Photo: K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs

Comfort dogs and their handlers

When the dogs aren’t lending a helping paw to those affected by tragedy, they visit people in hospitals and nursing homes. Each of the dogs carries a business card with its name, Facebook page, Twitter account and email so the people they comfort can keep in touch.

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Service dog with children

Photo: K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs

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