From Stephen Kuusisto, on Facebook:
“A lot of people say dogs make us human and who would sensibly argue the point? Those who work alone, hour after hour, know the good company of dogs. The bereaved who’ve survived scenes of huge violence are reminded of unambiguous good when therapy dogs arrive and nuzzle. The shadow of a life grows small before the light of dogs. Dog lovers have always known how canines complete their lives and nowadays theorists like Brian Hare (who coined the word “dogology”) argue dogs possess empathy which they share in abundance with their human partners. We know dogs are smarter than we’ve previously imagined. For the blind none of these ideas seems very surprising. Blindness, on a primary level, means living at one remove from the world, no matter how successful you are. A guide dog is not merely a guide through traffic, but an animal friend, close to the ground, beautiful, familiar, resilient, and strong. One can add confidence to empathy–a dog’s reliable faith can be shared with anyone, but especially the blind. Paired with a guide dog a blind person is back in the world, or, as was the case for me, is in the world for the first time.”
Corky entered my life like a sloppy clown. I was in a straight backed chair in a sunlit room and they told me to call and damned if she didn’t run full steam into my arms.
She was the clown who leaps into the seats and sits on someone’s grandfather.
She placed her front paws on my shoulders and washed my face and then, as if she knew the job would require comedy, she nibbled my nose but ever so gently like a horse who checks his owner’s hand for a peppermint.
Lovely essay by Stephen Kuusisto on Planet of the Blind
A team of golden retrievers made an 800-mile journey from the Chicago area to Newtown, Conn., over the weekend to comfort those affected by the recent school massacre.
Lutheran Church Charities deployed about 10 of the canines Saturday evening for residents who want to pet them while they talk or pray with the dog’s handler, said Tim Hetzner, president of the Addison-based organization.
“Dogs are non-judgmental. They are loving. They are accepting of anyone,” Hetzner said. “It creates the atmosphere for people to share.”
When the charities’ dogs are not responding to a national tragedy, they will often visit people in hospitals, nursing homes and parks. Each dog carries a business card with its name, Facebook page, twitter account and email so those that meet the canine can keep in touch
“The dogs have become the bridge,” said Lynn Buhrke, 66, who is a dog handler for a female golden retriever named Chewie. “People just sit down and talk to you.”
The dogs’ first stop Sunday in Newtown was Christ the King Lutheran Church, which is holding two funerals this week for two children who were slain during the shooting, Hetzner said.
“You could tell which ones …were really struggling with their grief because they were quiet,” Hetzner said. “They would pet the dog, and they would just be quiet.”
The dogs have been helpful even to those without children in Sandy Hook Elementary School, where the massacre occurred Friday, organizers said.
Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan Jr. pets Bronksey, his newest employee, who is specially trained to aid crime victims. NYLJ/Rick Kopstein
A nice piece on having a service/support dog working for the DA’s office, and giving comfort to victims of crime who are testifying in court:
“They didn’t chose to be victims, they are coming to us for help and that process is very traumatic and the dog takes the edge off,” Ivany said.