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Comfort dogs and chaplains offer support at Boulder King Soopers shooting memorial site

"People grieve best when they can relieve that anxiety from their heart and express it. Once they express it, they realize there is hope to be had."

BOULDER, Colo. — A slow pass by the King Soopers on Table Mesa in Boulder includes a view of hundreds of flowers, homemade signs offering support and bowed heads trying to find comfort.

“You’re welcome to pet her, yes,” Carol, a volunteer, said as she began to speak to a third-grader petting Cubby, the golden retriever. “She likes to hug, and she likes to listen to secrets if you have anything you want to talk to her about.”

Lutheran Church Services brought Cubby to the site to offer support to people grieving the 10 lives lost during the mass shooting at the Boulder King Soopers Monday.

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This is Cubby’s job, to listen to the things sometimes humans simply can’t bear to hear. Her blue vest has the words, ‘Please pet me’ etched in black, but her handlers said they know she gets much more than that.

“They take on people’s feelings,” said K-9 Crisis Response Coordinator for Lutheran Church Services  Bonnie Fear.  “We bring the dogs and bring comfort and smiles and just open up emotions for people so they can start the healing process.”

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Cubby is no stranger to it. At just 6 years old, she has seen her fair share of tragedy, but nothing has hit closer to home than Boulder.

“We’re based in Fort Collins,” Fear explained. “People think it’s not going to happen here and I heard that, ‘It can’t happen here,’ but it did it really did hit home, and we were devastated for the community. Yet we know we need to show up, we know we want to be strong for these people, and for them to know we’re very sorry for what happened. We care and we love them and through these dogs, we can do that.”

Other religious entities show their love in other ways. Jack Rasmusson finds his solace simply through offering prayer.

“We train crisis intervention team chaplains," said Rasmusson, a chaplain with the Billy Graham Rapid Response team. "We have them all over the country, and during these disasters, they call forth a lot of us, and we come in to give emotional and spiritual care to the community."

On Wednesday morning, he quietly walked through the crowd in front of King Soopers offering a gentle touch on the shoulder and quiet prayer for those who needed it.

“People need to grieve. People grieve best when they can relieve that anxiety from their heart and express it. Once they express it, they realize there is hope to be had,” he said.

Both the chaplains as well as the comfort dogs will make visits to the memorial site on Table Mesa through Sunday.

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