A note from
I spent 5 years in crisis response settings with beautiful golden retrievers who are trained to be a calming and comforting presence to people who are in pain. Thousands of hours in settings such as Sandy Hook Elementary, the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing and countless schools suffering from the effects of suicide, drug overdose, car accidents, cancer deaths and other sudden trauma. I loved and cared, watched and learned.
Watched, as day after day, week after week, month after month, people were desperate for comfort but very few could provide it.
But, dogs could, so what was it about the dogs at the end of the leash?
When co-founder Mary joined this journey, we started noting that times of tragedy follow a relative pattern as far as how comfort and support are shown to those most impacted and hurting:
During the first 72 hours to a week or two, there is a large outpouring of support. This is also the stage where those hurting the most are in a state of shock. During our deployments with the comfort dogs, these are the days when we can create a safe place for love, comfort and connection. People need to just be. They usually don’t want to talk. But they need to connect with each other. To cry and to love, and to be loved.
Time and time again we watch as these shattered lives look for something good to hold on to. They don’t know where to turn and increasingly we see how ill-equipped people are to help each other when they are hurting. They don’t know what to say or do. Their social cues are diminished so they turn to their phones for connection when in most cases, it just makes them feel more alone and more disconnected.
However, over and over we observed that dogs were able to easily comfort and calm those around them. Humans were sometimes awkward or hesitant to connect, but not dogs. We realized there will never be enough Golden Retrievers to comfort all in need, but - can we teach people to comfort and connect as the dogs do? Easily and effectively? But how?
Our first program, Club Comfort, started in November of 2015 with after school participants in CT/NY area schools that had experienced traumatic events. One of our goals was to find a way to get people in those communities back together again and continue to be there for them as the months and years go on. Another goal was to begin to teach others how to connect and comfort whether they had or had not experienced a trauma.
We soon realized we could not personally meet all the requests for program sessions. So, when co-founder Jill joined, we started to develop more formal program education materials and kits that would allow Teachers, Counselors, Mental Health Experts, Human Resources Leaders, Professional Development Leaders, Churches and Moms anywhere to have access to our programs and kit contents. In 2017, we officially formed Inspiring Comfort, LLC and expanded to include our Project Comfort program. Since then we have continued to watch as our Founder lead programs, workshops, professional development days or do it yourself program kits have impacted lives, one comfort connection at a time.
We all have too much to lose if we don’t find ways to reach out and compassionately connect with each other and those in pain. The alternative is a lonely and disconnected world. And we can’t have that.
We hope you join us on our journey.
PS ~ For further reading on this crisis please visit our recommended reading section.
*Inspiring Comfort LLC is not affiliated with Lutheran Church Charities or the LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs.