While driving back from the annual LCC K9 Comfort Dog Conference this year, I received the call to deploy to Redding, CA to spend time with those impacted by the devastating Carr fire. I quickly made my way back to California (from Illinois) and joined my good friend Reuben Comfort Dog, and Nebraska Comfort Dogs Eddie, Moses, and Priscilla.
We spent time at the Coroner’s office, the evacuation center, Fire Base Camp, the CHP Dispatch Office, PG&E Base Camp and visited with insurance workers.
Our teams were all greatly blessed to be able to share the mercy and compassion of Christ with others during difficult times. One of my handlers said it best: “It was a great experience to see how much comfort [the dogs] brought to everyone. We kept hearing, over and over, how petting the dogs made them feel “normal” for a few moments and how grateful they were to us for being there. Many of them showed us pictures of their dogs. Some of them opened up about the stresses and challenges of their jobs; it was clear they needed to talk, and we were happy to listen.
For others, it was a brief moment for them to forget about the work they had to do and to know that we support them and are praying for them. God led us to the right people at the right time, and it was an honor to be there to show our gratitude and share God’s comfort through Aaron and Reuben [Eddie, Moses, and Priscilla].”
After returning from deployment, Reuben and I were invited by Cal Fire to attend the memorial service in Chico for heavy equipment mechanic Andrew Brake, who died in an accident on his way to work at the Carr fire. We were truly humbled and honored to be there to comfort Andrew’s family and co-workers. After a request came to “send up the big dogs” to the front of the church, we shared a special moment with his parents and daughters, just prior to the commencement of the service. It was a reminder of the power that a simple touch or just being present can bring.
Now that school is back in session, I am back to my regular routine, visiting Vintage High, Camille Creek, and the Office of Education. I am also excited to be adding a new “assignment” to my roster: I will be visiting the campus of Redwood Middle School on a weekly basis this year. I can’t wait to meet new friends!
Stay tuned to see where God leads me next.