Maggie The Comfort Dog Retires To Florida After Career Of Service

Maggie The Comfort Dog Retires To Florida After Career Of Service

Right after just about a decade of exemplary company as a consolation dog in Newtown, Maggie the golden retriever has retired with her without end loved ones and canine companion to Florida.

Maggie’s contribution of gentle adore and kindness in town began soon just after the Sandy Hook Elementary College (SHES) shooting on December 14, 2012 (12/14).

At the time Maggie, and her sister Addie, had been recently qualified K-9 Ease and comfort Dogs with Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) and not even a 12 months outdated.

The sisters fulfilled the group for the very first time at Christ the King Lutheran Church, 85 Mt Nice Street, just two times after the tragedy.

Newtown resident Cathy Reiss, who later on became Maggie’s guide handler, recollects the moment she witnessed the effective healing comfort and ease pet dogs bring.

“There had been about 50 {aa306df364483ed8c06b6842f2b7c3ab56b70d0f5156cbd2df60de6b4288a84f} a dozen puppies in our Fellowship Hall to satisfy us after church. At the time, I experienced a son in seventh grade and a daughter who was a junior in substantial faculty. The two individually knew some of the victims. They walked into that area and pleasure came on their confront and they just sat down and pet the pet dogs. As a mother, I understood this was a fantastic matter. I acquired to see them smile, to forget about for a instant,” she recalled.

Right after that first assignment in Newtown, Maggie and her fellow convenience puppies experienced the important job of getting there for the young children and employees of SHES when the college quickly relocated in Monroe next the shootings.

With a community continue to hurting and healing, the LCC K-9 Comfort and ease Puppies experienced a chaotic routine checking out those in need to have in addition to frequently checking out the church every Sunday morning.

“Lutheran Church Charities experienced various persons coming in and out to Newtown. They ended up here a couple months and the principal people said, ‘We have to go now. We see there is still a have to have, so we can depart Maggie and Addie powering, and we can practice some of you,’” Reiss explained.

Immanuel Lutheran Church in Danbury adopted Addie in August 2013. Christ the King Lutheran Church adopted Maggie the subsequent month about Labor Working day weekend.

When the church wanted someone to coordinate Maggie’s intricate assignment calendar, Reiss presented to fill that volunteer placement.

Her responsibilities not only entailed making Maggie’s calendar centered on the incoming requests for visits and handler availability, but she also took part in handler conferences, refresher trainings at Cassio Pet Vacation resort & Education Centre, and managed interaction with different media outlets.

When Maggie was featured in the e-book Remarkable Puppies by John Schlimm and Liz Stavrinides in 2019, it was Reiss who was in demand of contributing her personalized sentiments on behalf of Maggie. SHES alumna Paige Tarpey lent her art expertise for the book’s illustration and drew a image of Maggie.

In the meantime, Maggie’s workforce also included Ken Fay who was a handler, ran her social media account, and made the Emmy award winning mini-documentary Wags ‘n’ Tales about Maggie and Addie.

At just one place, Maggie had up to 16 trained handlers who would choose her to gatherings.

‘Near And Far’ Assignments

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maggie frequently frequented a myriad of areas. In addition to her “home” church and SHES, she went to Newtown Center University, Newtown Higher University (NHS), Hawley Elementary Faculty, Family members United in Newtown (Fun) activities, Danbury Healthcare facility, Yale-New Haven Psychiatric Healthcare facility, VA Connecticut Health care Method West Haven Campus’ cancer ward, Pretty much Residence Adult Daycare, and Village Crest Nursing Household.

She also lent a aiding paw with local companies, including, but not restricted to, C.H. Booth Library, Newtown Parks & Recreation, Nunnawauk Meadows Independent Dwelling, Collin George Whitmore Basis, Newtown Kindness, Ben’s Lighthouse, Pony Rides for Jessica Rekos, Newtown Earth Working day Pageant, Honan Funeral Property, Newtown Labor Day Parade, and The Resiliency Centre of Newtown for several activities.

Maggie helped with grief assist at Ridgefield Significant University, Children’s Group School in Waterbury, Mahopac Middle Faculty/Higher Faculty in New York as effectively as wellbeing fairs at Western Connecticut Point out University in Danbury, University of Connecticut in Waterbury, and R.M.T. Johnson Elementary University in Bethel, just to identify a couple.

If that was not more than enough, she also attended “Story Time with Maggie” at New Fairfield Community Library, a Lunch & Master with O&G Industries in Torrington, a Passing of the Leash ceremony at Messiah Lutheran Church in Massachusetts, a generate-by prayer function at Christ Lutheran Church in Massachusetts, and numerous other specific gatherings.

Her nationwide outreach even extended to Texas in 2017 right after the point out was devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Maggie was deployed for round-the-clock operate and traveled with one of her major handlers, Lori Flandreau, and Christ the King Lutheran Church Pastor Rob Morris.

“We under no circumstances went wherever until we had been invited, so as you can see, we experienced quite a few invitations — in the vicinity of and far,” Reiss claimed.

Caregivers Contributions

Pastor Morris also had the prospect of currently being Maggie’s main caregiver in the course of most of her yrs in Newtown. After being formally adopted by Christ the King Lutheran Church, Maggie began living with his household at the parsonage.

“When the ease and comfort dogs very first arrived to Newtown just after the 12/14 shootings, I was a skeptic. For precisely four times. My skepticism finished the adhering to Tuesday night,” he stated.

Pastor Morris recalls how he witnessed a class of about 20 learners at the church be introduced alongside one another in a minute of peace by means of petting the consolation pet dogs.

“I remained on the fence about entering into consolation dog ministry for accurately 4 months. It was 4 months until eventually April 15, 2013, when the Boston bombings took area,” he shared, then extra that he has quite a few own connections to Boston and to the marathon that day.

He understood the Boston community could gain from the comfort canines just like Newtown experienced.

“It was lastly very clear to me that these remarkably-properly trained, and diligently led pet dogs could offer enjoy and treatment in a way that persons could not,” Pastor Morris stated.

Over the class of the up coming nine yrs, he got to see Maggie’s competencies in motion.

“After suicides and violent attacks and unforeseen fatalities through a lot more mundane gatherings like stressful finals or transfer-up day to a new college at plenty of bedsides and in innumerable school rooms, someone’s day would get a bit brighter, their breathing a bit a lot easier, and their smile a little bit broader since of a golden retriever’s eager appreciate,” he reported.

Reiss noted that the career of caretaker for a comfort and ease pet dog is a entire-time accountability.

“It was really gracious for them to acknowledge that. Not only are you taking treatment of a nicely-properly trained puppy and creating positive she doesn’t do matters that she isn’t intended to, like leaping on the couch or leaping on folks, but you have received men and women coming and in out of your property all the time to select up the pet dog and carry the puppy back,” she defined.

When COVID-19 constraints took location, it halted what the ease and comfort pet dog ministry could do in terms of heading areas. It also modified day-to-day existence for Pastor Morris’s loved ones, whose kids began remote finding out.

“So, Maggie went to the backup caregiver, who has bronchial asthma and allergy symptoms. She had Maggie for distinctive durations of time and was high-quality, but when Maggie was there for that length of time, she observed out that she truly reacted to her,” Reiss mentioned.

Maggie then went to stay with Flandreau, who became her new caregiver all through the pandemic.

Immediately after becoming with the spouse and children all over 2021, Flandreau knowledgeable the Ease and comfort Puppy Team that her family members essential to move to Florida for her husband’s work.

Flandreau also designed an unpredicted present, nonetheless. She acknowledged Maggie’s highly developed age, how the convenience pet ministry experienced been constrained for what could be carried out all through the pandemic, and she stated her spouse and children would be content to have Maggie shift with them and retire to Florida.

“We considered about it and brought it to the church council to discuss. All symptoms pointed to that being the suitable matter to do for Maggie,” Reiss mentioned.

Retirement Decision

On November 15, 2021, Christ the King Lutheran Church’s Newtown Comfort Team manufactured the formal announcement on Maggie’s Facebook web site about her retirement.

It reads in element, “It is with deep gratitude and thanksgiving that we announce the retirement of Maggie Consolation Dog from lively provider in Christ the King’s Newtown Convenience ministry, which was an affiliate of Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Consolation Pet dog Ministry.

“Maggie has unquestionably been a blessing to us and to so a lot of in excess of the several years. The hope, compassion, and mild she brought us will under no circumstances diminish. Enable us not ignore the classes that the Lord has taught us by her support: that we are never ever alone in our problems, that the Lord will normally occur to people who are brokenhearted, and that we are liked extra than we can imagine!”

Maggie is in fantastic health and fitness and will now are living out her lifetime with her without end loved ones — Lori and Ted Flandreau, their daughter Grace, and their pet dog Marty.

“She enjoys the relatives and her minor brother Marty,” Reiss stated.

The spouse and children even celebrated Maggie’s tenth birthday in style on January 3, 2022, by supplying her a pup-protected cake with canine biscuits and loads of fun toys to enjoy with.

Reiss has received updates from the household displaying that Maggie is residing in the lap of luxury by paying out her time swimming and soaking up the Florida sunshine — a properly-deserved retirement that any individual would dream of having.

Approaching Celebration

Since Maggie has remaining these types of an impression on the Newtown group, Christ the King Lutheran Church will be web hosting a Celebration of Ministry for her in the Spring. It will be Maggie’s official retirement get together and give the public an option to thank her for her services.

Reiss also mentions in addition to Maggie’s wonderful perform, it truly is a crew effort to do the consolation pet dog ministry.

“We couldn’t have accomplished this for nine-as well as yrs without the pretty focused team of handlers we experienced … they stuck with it. We experienced people transfer, people with ailments — it is a difficult occupation. There have been some difficult assignments,” she said.

Reiss added, “We sense blessed that our group place their belief in us to provide them all these yrs. It was an honor.”

Given that there will often be a require for consolation canine, Maggie has passed the metaphorical baton to her sister Addie, who is undertaking some local work in her semi-retirement. A further pet dog, Leah, from Immanuel Lutheran Church, is also serving Newtown together with visits to Newtown Large College throughout annoying periods for students’ test using.

Pastor Morris shared, “As Christians, we are taught to like our neighbor just as Christ beloved us. I figured out that at times, that love comes a great deal much more simply on four legs than on two. I will normally be grateful for the alternatives that arose to love and care for others in will need just since a wonderful, blue-vested golden retriever was walking at the end of the leash.”

To observe Maggie’s retirement adventures, check out facebook.com/people/Maggie-Sunshine-Retirement. Also, learn much more about her previous perform by visiting fb.com/MaggieComfortDog.

Reporter Alissa Silber can be reached at [email protected].

As a comfort and ease pet dog, Maggie had the critical work of bringing unconditional appreciate to persons of all ages, together with the student pictured below who was grieving the loss of life of a fellow classmate. —photos courtesy Cathy Reiss

Christ the King Lutheran Church’s longtime convenience doggy Maggie sits with her permanently relatives — Ted, Grace (with Marty), and Lori Flandreau — at a goodbye handler accumulating in November. Lori was earlier just one of Maggie’s primary handlers and adopted Maggie when she retired in 2021.

When Maggie turned 10 yrs aged on January 3, 2022, her eternally relatives got her a pup-harmless birthday cake with puppy biscuits on best to rejoice.

Maggie was all smiles obtaining her favourite doggy toys and treats for her birthday, which she celebrated poolside in Florida.

Maggie proceeds to be in good wellbeing in her golden decades and enjoys frolicking in the drinking water in Florida.