Local church provides four-legged comfort

By on June 8, 2014
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Photo: Chloe, a comfort dog from Lord of Life Lutheran Church in La Fox, gets love from some young dancers during a recent party at Dreams Dance Academy in La Fox. Photo by Debbie Behrends

LA FOX—Chloe Comfort Dog is living proof that happiness is a warm dog. And she recently visited with some young dancers at Dreams Dance Academy in LaFox.

A dozen little girls gently stroked Chloe’s soft golden coat, some sharing stories of their own pets or the desire for a dog. Handler Sue Kessler of South Elgin, Ill., listened to their stories, and shared a few tales of Chloe’s visits to people in need of the comfort a warm, gentle and calm dog can provide.

“(Chloe’s) been to Sandy Hook, to New York after superstorm Sandy, to Rockford after a shooting, Washington, Ill., after the November tornado, and so many more places,” Kessler said of the 3-year-old Golden Retriever.

A member of Lutheran Church Charities (LCC), Chloe is based at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in La Fox. Chloe’s mission, according to her Facebook page, is to bring a calming influence, allowing people to open their hearts and receive help in times of need.

Kessler explained that Chloe was trained as a general service dog in a women’s prison. She was picked specifically as a comfort dog based on her gentle temperament. She was 13 months old when her leash was passed to handlers at Lord of Life.

Chloe’s primary handlers are Sandy and Bob Kessler. Although she is of no relation to the primary handlers, Sue laughingly refers to herself as “Chloe’s grandma.”

Sue is no stranger to comfort dogs. She said she has been a handler before, and was among the first comfort teams to arrive at Northern Illinois University after the 2008 shooting that left six students dead.

“I was excited when the church decided to get a comfort dog,” Sue said.

Lutheran Church Charities’ website shows 44 working comfort dogs all over Northern Illinois and other states, as well. Two more are in training.

Dreams Dance Academy owner Jenny O’Brien learned of Chloe online.

“I saw a picture on Facebook of one of my students with the dog,” O’Brien said. “I contacted the church and invited her here.”

Watching her young dancers interact with Chloe, O’Brien smiled, pleased that she had reached out.

For more information about LCC and its comfort dogs, visit www.lutheranchurchcharities.org and click the Ministries tab and then K-9 Comfort Dog. For more pictures and specific information about Chloe, visit Facebook and search for Chloe Comfort Dog.