Comfort dog visits St. Joe’s
St. Joseph’s Retirement Community residents were recently treated to a visit by Katie, a trained K-9 Comfort Dog. Katie belongs to Trinity Lutheran Church, Fremont, and makes visits to area nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, day cares and schools. She has also helped in disaster situations.
“In addition to our area visits, Katie has provided comfort at recent tragic situations in Oregon and Oklahoma. Her job is to provide comfort and calm people,” said Deb Heur, one of 13 trained handlers for Katie. Glen Mueller, another Katie handler, explained that Katie has had 2,000 hours of training. Katie is very docile and has been trained to let people she is not familiar with pet her over and over again. “When she is wearing her halter and vest she knows she is working,” said Mueller.
He demonstrated several commands Katie is trained to respond to, such as “stay” and “up.” When she is commanded “up” she gently puts her paws on a person’s lap and sits up so she is more easily petted and hugged. “I thought she was great! I wasn’t feeling very well today and she laid her head on my lap like she knew something was wrong. I felt a real connection to her,” said St. Joseph’s resident Elaine Throener.
Katie is an 18-month-old Golden Retriever and was selected to be trained by Lutheran Church Charities when she was just six weeks-old. Trinity Lutheran Church, Fremont, had to apply to adopt Katie and provides for care. All of her expenses are supported by donations. When she is not working, Katie lives with two primary caregivers in Fremont.