Scheels All Sports, the newly opened recreational equipment store in Johnstown, Colorado, draws a decent number of people on a Tuesday morning. Local teenagers on spring break, as well as families who have run down from Cheyenne, stroll the wide aisles around the ferris wheel in the center of the store. Some shoppers are strolling while others are looking for specific items to buy. At some point, however, almost everyone turns their head to watch the golden retriever named Cubby, who is also walking through the store and is wearing a blue vest that says “Pet me!”.
“Do you want to stroke her?” asks Bonnie Fear, one of Cubby’s handlers. The answer is always “yes!” A huge smile spread on people’s faces as they reached for the cuddle.
In Scheels, Cubby, a comfort dog from the K9 Comfort Dog Ministry of the Lutheran Church Charities (LCC), exercises her skills. Your job is to stay calm while others caress you. Environments vary, and people – ranging in ages from toddlers to the elderly – are almost always new and therefore strange. Cubby welcomes them all.
In the 10 years that the LCC K9 Comfort Dog Ministry has existed, the US has seen a disturbing number of trauma, from flooding in small towns to mass shootings that reverberate across the country. The LCC’s Golden Retrievers have become a recognized presence with many of them.