Loudon County comfort dog helping heal in Orlando


LOUDON (WATE) – A dog from East Tennessee is in Orlando helping to comfort those dealing with the aftermath of that nightclub shooting.

Jewel is a golden retriever trained to be one of Lutheran Church Charities’ K-9 Comfort Dogs. She works with Christ Our Savior Church in Loudon. She went through about a year and a half of training to be a comfort dog, providing to others exactly what her title says: comfort.More coverage:Orlando Nightclub Shooting

Her handlers at the church also got special training.

“It’s that sense of presence and calmness in environments that may be chaotic which I’m sure she’s encountering right now, that allows her to remain quiet and peaceful and allows her just to receive,” said handler and caregiver Ginger Barthel.

Jewel spends six days a week visiting people in our area. She and two handlers left for Orlando on Monday.

“There’s such hurt going on down there and so you don’t get excited about that but it is comforting and encouraging to know that we can help out in this way,” said Pastor Brian Truog.

Jewel and 10 of her comrades met with victims’ families on Tuesday, wearing harnesses saying “please pet me.” Their love is helping people pull through.

“It’s very heartwarming. There are many times that I am humbled by people’s stories,” said Barthel.

“You hope it doesn’t happen, but when it happens you’re glad that you’re able to be there,” Truog added.

The comfort dogs are also working with first responders and going to the hospital to visit with those who were injured in the attack. The 11 comfort dogs from Lutheran Church Charities visiting Orlando came from seven different states.

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