The Upbeat

Therapy dogs travel to Boston to provide comfort

The Upbeat

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Luther and Isaiah on their way to Boston (photo via Facebook).

Luther and Isaiah on their way to Boston (photo via Facebook)

Several therapy dogs that helped survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting are heading to Boston to offer canine comfort.

The specially trained golden retrievers are provided by Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) of Addison, Illinois.

Tim Hetzner, president of LCC spoke with the "Today" show about the dogs' power to help. "People talk to the dogs—they’re like furry counselors," he said. "It’s a chance to help bring some relief to people that are shaken up because of the bombings."

According to "Today," the golden retrievers and their handlers will stay in Boston until at least Sunday. They're based at First Lutheran Church, just a couple of blocks from the explosions. Hetzner told "Today" that the dogs will also travel to local hospitals to visit those who were injured in the blasts.

"I would imagine their effect will be the same as it was in Newtown," Hetzner said. "They bring a calming effect to people and help them process the various emotions that they go through in times like this."

The Huffington Post spoke with Pastor Ingo Dutzmann of Boston's First Lutheran Church. "Animals have an uncanny ability … to discern that you and I have sadness and distress," he said. "Rather than shying away from it, they're attracted to it. They will literally go in a classroom of children and literally find the child most afraid of something."

The therapy dogs undergo months of training to help them remain calm in stressful situations. Each dog has its own Facebook page, so people who forge a bond can keep in touch with their favorite pooch.

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