In the aftermath of such a massive, tragic loss, the survivors of horrific events like the Newtown shooting must find a way to cope with their grief, whether it's by talking to other survivors or spending time with friends and family. But a Lutheran charity from Chicago thought of a way they could help, and it involved ten loving, sweet golden retrievers.
"Dogs are nonjudgmental. They are loving. They are accepting of anyone," said Tim Hetzner, the organization’s president. "It creates the atmosphere for people to share."
The animals provided a source of comfort and eased a bit of tension as families gathered to speak with their handlers or to pray. And, as most pet owners know, sometimes the unconditional love a dog gives during a period of grieving is just what is needed to cross a major emotional hurdle.
"You could tell which (people) ... were really struggling with their grief because they were quiet," Hetzner said. "They would pet the dog, and they would just be quiet."
The animals who helped the Newtown residents have their own Facebook pages so that the people whose lives they've touched can keep up with them, or just make a connection via the internet when they feel the overwhelming slide back into grief.