MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) - From the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, to the Boston Marathon bombing, and the fertilizer plant explosion in West Texas, dogs are making a difference.
Specially trained golden retrievers are providing a special kind of comfort to those who need it the most.
Richard Martin, Co-Director of the K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry, has brought a few of them to meet and greet people at Ball State University.
"It's a medical proven fact that petting a dog will lower your blood pressure. It will lower your heart rate. And it just brings a calm and peace when people are going through very stressful times," says Martin.
And the dogs are trained to take on the toughest cases. K-9 Comfort dogs are a part of the Lutheran Church Charities.
They are ready to go into the heart of any disaster, says Alan Mortensen of Lutheran Church Charities.
"Any place where people are hurting and need assistance. Where the dogs can be used to get people communicating," he says.
A mission the dogs just accomplished in Boston.
"We visited people at the memorial. We visited people at the church. We made several hospital visits to those who were wounded in the bombing," says Martin.
Not all dogs are sent to all sites. Five were in Boston. Among them, Luther who celebrated his second birthday there and is among the dogs at Ball State. He also went to Newtown Connecticut and Sandy Hook Elementary, twice.
"We were expecting to be there five days and we stayed there five weeks with Luther and Ruthy, basically working the elementary school," says Martin.
The comfort dogs are trained the same as service dogs and then get special emphasis on keeping a calm demeanor. The dogs, like Luther understand the needs of those they help.
"He knows when he has that vest on he's working. And he keeps that demeanor and people just love his face," says Martin smiling.
The K-9 Parish Comfort Dog program began in 2008 at Northern Illinois University after a gunman killed five students. Today, the initiative has grown from just a few dogs in the Chicago area to 60 dogs in six states.
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