The LCC K9 Comfort Dogs were invited to Clarendon Avenue Elementary School in Mukwonago, Wisconsin on Monday, May 23rd for a special visit with students and staff.
Following the Waukesha Parade tragedy in November of 2021, the school suffered a loss of a beloved student and friend. Jackson succumbed to his injuries after being injured in the parade and his brother, Tucker, was severely injured but has now returned to school. When the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs visited for the first time in 2021, many tears were absorbed into the fur of the many dogs present as children and staff processed what had happened and grieved for the loss of their friend.
Six months later, and as the school year was coming to a close, Principal Andrea Kaplan and District Psychologist Brittany Sardorf invited the Comfort Dogs back for a "fun" visit. Bekah Comfort Dog (Immanuel - Belvidere, Illinois), Charity Comfort Dog (Brookfield Lutheran - Brookfield, Wisconsin), Hagar Comfort Dog (Faith - Appleton, Wisconsin), and Mary Comfort Dog (St. Paul's - Janesville, Wisconsin) returned to lots of student excitement on that Monday.
The Comfort Dogs had a fun day of spending time in each classroom with the opportunity to visit with each and every student of the large elementary school. Many students remembered the Comfort Dogs and some even had the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog cards still in their desks. Others pointed to the stuffed LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs that were given to each classroom many months ago. There were lots of snuggles, sweet scratches behind the ears, and plenty of big hugs given to each Comfort Dog.
While some are still processing the loss and tragedy, seeing the dogs made each of those students know that they are loved each day and will always have a friend in the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs. The tragedy and loss many of these children had to experience are unimaginable, but as one staff member said, "having you here makes today a little more bearable."
In the aftermath of December 30, 2021, Marshall Fire that destroyed over 1,000 homes in Louisville and Superior, Colorado, people came together for the Boulder Valley Build Expo held at Ascent Church in Louisville, Colorado.
This Expo provided an opportunity for those who lost their homes in the Marshall Fire on December 30 to hear and meet with local builders and city officials and attend presentations that would assist them in making decisions on the rebuilding process of their homes and neighborhoods. There were also 35 other businesses present for people to meet with any questions or concerns they had. Four hundred eight-five households were invited to this Expo.
LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Cubby and Devorah (Redeemer - Fort Collins, Colorado) were invited to attend the Boulder Valley Build Expo event to be there with the participants. Cubby and Devorah Comfort Dogs greeted people on Friday and Saturday as they entered the church to attend the Expo. After two months after these horrific fires, the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry handlers and ministry partners could see the distraught, lost looks on people’s faces who are still trying to navigate the fact that the fire consumed all they owned and how to begin the rebuilding process.
People shared with Cubby's and Devorah's team the stories of their pets lost in the fire or due to illness as they petted and sought the comfort and warmth of the Comfort Dogs.
The fires that happened in December also separated families from their beloved pets. Several of the pet owners shared how they could not take their pets with them when they found temporary housing and had to arrange to have their four-legged family members to be fostered for them temporarily. Many of these families were going to visit their pets after the Expo.
The LCC K-9 Comfort Dog team with Cubby and Devorah also met city officials who were present to show their support and many volunteers who continue to show their love and concern and help out where needed.
The handlers and ministry partners had the opportunity to pray with a woman who praised God for being with her through this tragedy. She shared that without her faith, she was not sure how she would have been able to live day by day through this crisis.
One of the attendees said the Expo was overwhelming but helpful for her. She said it made such a difference to see and pet the dogs. “They help me to just breathe.”
A man who came with his daughter said, “Thank you for bringing these wonderful dogs- they are good for the soul!”
The LCC K-9 Ministry team from Redeemer Lutheran Church, Fort Collins, Colorado, is building a strong relationship with the Louisville and Superior communities and Ascent since the fires that happened in December and will continue to support the victims as they continue to heal and rebuild.
God is in control and working as the communities of Louisville, and Superior move forward after the fires.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
In September, Peace Lutheran Church, Fremont, Indiana, joined LCC staff for handler training. The team was very excited to meet their new LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Dove and to become part of the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry. The new handlers and caregivers spent many hours training in ministry and in handler skills.
LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Dove will serve as their handlers’ bridge so they can be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to those who are suffering and in need.
K-9 Comfort Dog Dove’s Bible verse is Mark 1:10-11 “Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’”
The LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry is one of presence. When the Lord calls, we must go and serve Him. Isaiah 6:8 tells us, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me.’”
The following new LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry handlers have heard that call:
Hope Korte, Charla Cygan, Steve Cygan, Pam Hall, Chad Korte, Stephanie Paradine, Amber Vonderau, Travis Vonderau
The Peace, Fremont, Indiana, LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry team was commissioned on Sunday, October 17. They were joined and supported by LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs Anna & Claudia (Trinity - Toledo, Ohio), Naomi (Holy Cross - Indianapolis, Indiana), and their ministry teams.
It was a day filled with joy, smiles, and excitement for God’s plans for their team and LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Dove to go out into the community to share the mercy, compassion, presence and proclamation of Jesus Christ to those who are suffering and in need.
God is with them as they begin this new journey as part of the LCC K-9 Ministry.