Ft. Collins’ therapy dogs and their handlers comfort Boulder mass shooting survivors

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BOULDER, Colo. — Therapy dogs Cubby and Devorah have responded to a lot of our nation’s dark days, but responding to the mass shooting at a King Soopers in Boulder may be their toughest assignment yet.

“We’ve had many tears, we’ve had laughter, but they connect us, they connect us to people,” said Bonnie Fear, the K9 Director of Crisis Deployment for Lutheran Church Services.

The golden retrievers are based in Fort Collins and are part of Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry. For the past two weeks, Cubby, Devorah and their volunteer handlers, have been holding space outside the growing King Soopers memorial in Boulder, ready to meet the flood of grief when words just aren’t quite right.

“There’s something about them that just calms people, comforts them and allows them to either cry silently or start to tell their story,” said volunteer handler, Jody Lockwood.

The pair has provided comfort to mourners, first responders and dispatchers. Lockwood recalled the moment Devorah comforted a CU Student and shooting survivor outside the store.

“She just kept saying, ‘I’m all alone, I’m all alone,’ as she sobbed,” Lockwood said. “She just sobbed into her and we didn’t say much. She started talking and said, ‘I was in there and I hid. When I got out all I saw were the dead people. Petting the dogs and listening to the music, it’s the first time I haven’t heard the gunshots in my head.”

RELATED: These are the 10 victims of the Boulder King Soopers shooting

Words will never explain the horrific act that took ten innocent lives, but thanks to the dogs and their dedicated volunteers, the site marked by tragedy has now become a place for people to heal.

“There is hope, it’s hard to find right now, but it is there,” Fear said.

Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.