Dogs help tornado victims lick despair
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Try to put yourself in the place of an Oklahoma tornado victim. Your house is gone. Your family's in shock. You can't take time to pet a dog. People in Oklahoma, and here in Tucson will tell you, maybe you should.
Highly trained search dogs have been essential in the tornado aftermath, but some dogs who'd look at home on a couch are ready to do important work their own way.
They are comfort dogs---therapy dogs whose mellow manners help drain away despair. That's why Richard Martin brought them to the damage zone.
He says, "Whether infants or adults, they bring a calmness, they bring a healing."
A yellow Labrador named Elsa uses the power of soft fur and soulful eyes here in Tucson. Joyce Casey saw it with a patient at the VA Hospital.
"They don't even know anything about me, I just drive her where ever but, he said. "You know Elsa, I was feeling pretty down until I started talking to you. He said, "It's good to stop thinking about my own problems."
The dogs, and their people need to be able to stay calm and focused in something like the chaos of a disaster scene.
Elsa and Joyce volunteer with an organization called Pet Partners which tests both of them.
"I take a practical test and a written. She slips out on the written but we both take a practical test together and it's my watching out for my dog and my dog's response to the people."
The Pima County Attorney's office even has a comfort dog to calm children in traumatic cases.
Disaster responders have not called Joyce and Elsa but Joyce is confident they could help rebuild the hearts and minds storm victims need to recover.
"Her function would be afterwards just helping the people heal."
And sometimes that doesn't require a single word.