Golden Retriever Therapy Dogs Comfort Hospital Staffers Affected By The El Paso Shooting

by Kelly Glass
Kelly Glass is a writer whose work focuses on the intersections of parenting, health, and pop culture. She lives in an Illinois college town with her educator husband, wildly ambitious sons, dog, and several fish. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Romper,, HelloGiggles,, What to Expect, and more.

Staff members at Del Sol Medical Center, where many victims of the recent shooting in El Paso, Texas, were taken, saw tragedy firsthand.

These golden retrievers showed up at the hospital to bring them some comfort.

“It’s better to see something positive come our way than what we’ve been having to deal with,” said Riannen Aguirre, an office coordinator at the medical center.

The dogs were provided by Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry, which trains the naturally calming golden retrievers to comfort people who are in need.

“They bring comfort because they show unconditional love,” Tim Hetzner, president of Lutheran Church Charities, said.

“They’re confidential, they don’t take notes, and they’re nonjudgmental. They help people to calm down for a little bit and relax.” In this community, the therapeutic presence of these dogs is much needed.

“We heard that there was puppies and we decided to come to get the joy of them,” Riannen said. The dogs were dispatched to help the survivors as well as the staff. The Lutheran Church Charities comfort dogs are placed in communities in times of crisis to help those affected. They were also in Connecticut after the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

“She’s coming with me,” said another medical center staff member.

Watch the video to see how a few doggy hugs can put a smile on the faces of those with some of the toughest jobs.

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