FORT COLLINS, Colo. (KDVR) — Two comfort dogs based in Fort Collins will be traveling to Uvalde, Texas to help welcome students back on their first day of school.
“I think it’s important that kids, when they return to school, have that familiarity because some of them are going to a different school,” Bonnie Fear said.
Fear is the K-9 crisis response coordinator for Lutheran Church Charities. The organization has a network of about 130 specially trained comfort dogs across 26 states.
Cubby and Devorah live in Fort Collins. Their day job is to visit schools, hospitals, first responders and anyone else who needs a little extra comfort.
“We walk around to the different rooms and visit with people,” Cubby’s handler, Joni Heiden said. “They make an incredible difference and they know who needs comfort.”
The dogs are also called on to deploy when tragedies happen in communities around the country.
“Our last deployment was in Uvalde in May,” Fear said. “Where we set up the crosses and hearts for the memorial was where everyone gathered and they knew we would be there so we made it a point to be there for the families who repeatedly came back.”
According to Fear, some children spoke for the very first time after the school shooting during their visits with the comfort dogs.
The school district invited the team of dogs back to help students, parents and staff adjust to the first few days back in the classroom.
“They know the difference that these dogs are going to impact the kids. They’re gonna feel safe to see the dogs,” Fear said. “We can bring a smile and if they cannot think about going into the school and focus on the dog and seeing their friends and a familiar teacher, we can be that bridge to connect all that together.”
Cubby and Devorah will be part of a team of 10 dogs assigned to help in Uvalde for the first week of class. Twenty more dogs will deploy across the district’s eight schools for the second and third week of school.