DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) – The call came in only hours after Sunday morning’s horrific Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando, Florida.
Gracie the Comfort Dog of Davenport was needed as soon as possible.
The 5-year-old golden retriever quickly had a flight booked out of Chicago, leaving early Monday morning to arrive in Orlando by lunchtime.
“Her purpose is to share love and compassion with those who are suffering,” says Jane Marsh-Johnson, one of Gracie’s handlers.
“And dogs are wonderful listeners, and that’s so much of what these people need.”
Gracie is a Lutheran Church Charity K9 comfort dog, based at Davenport’s Trinity Lutheran Church, who is specially trained to ease human suffering.
She normally helps those in the Quad Cities, but this week she and other comfort dogs from around the country will be in Orlando.
The dogs will visit hospitals and be present at local churches to provide comfort to those impacted by the deadliest shooting in U.S. history in which 50 were killed and 53 injured.
Gracie has previously been deployed to national tragedies, including the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings in Newtown, Connecticut in which 26 were killed and the 2013 Yarnell Hill Fire in Prescott, Arizona in which 19 firefighters died.
Once again this week she will perform a simple yet profound service.
“We encourage those [in Orlando] who are grieving to sit down on the floor and pet dogs like Gracie,” Marsh-Johnson says.
“The dogs do more for those suffering than human beings can do.”