Loudon County comfort dog returns from helping in Orlando
LOUDON (WATE) – A comfort dog from Loudon and her handlers are back home after spending nearly a week in Orlando following the mass shooting that left 49 people dead.

Her name is Jewel and she is part of a team of comfort dogs from Lutheran Church Charities. She wears a harness that says “please pet me” offering others to wrap themselves around her.

“That’s her call, to bring comfort and peace and grace to people that are hurting,” said one of her handlers, Steve Schoenherr.

She spends six days a week visiting people locally through Christ our Savior Lutheran Church in Loudon. One week ago her handlers getting the call for something bigger.

“At that point we had no idea what had happened in Orlando, so we phoned them immediately and they said there was a mass shooting and 50 people had died, and we said we’ll pack our bags and we’ll be there,” said Judy Schoenherr.

They left at 6 a.m. Monday, going wherever they were needed in Orlando.

“One of the fire people we talked to was the third rescue unit in and he said the bullets were still flying when he got there,” said Steve Schoenherr.

Judy Schoenherr added, “You never know who will cross your path that might need to comforting touch that this dog can bring.”

They met with community members, first responders, even victims. Each spent a little time taking in the love of a dog.

“We did meet with a survivor and he was very happy to meet with Jewel, threw his arms around her and embraced her,” said Steve Schoenherr.

A golden retriever that is trained to be calm and receive the emotions of others, now part of the first step to helping Orlando heal.

“A golden retriever seems to have a sixth sense about who is hurting. We’ve seen that in Jewel several times,” Judy Schoenherr said. “We need to continue to pray for people of Orlando, that they can heal and put their lives back together.”

Jewel was not the only comfort dog there. There were 12 of them total from seven different states.

Jewel does most of her work locally. If you know a person or group who might like a visit from Jewel you can contact her handlers at Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Loudon.