Hello! I am Jewel Philippians 2:3, and since August of 2014 I have served as the Comfort Dog for Christ Our Savior in Loudon, TN. My comfort dog ministry began when I was ten weeks old, and by the time I was fourteen months old, I had over 3000 hours of training. I was then prepared to move to Tennessee and begin my career.
At Christ Our Savior, five families have volunteered to be my handlers and caregivers. Together we go into the community, serving people where they are, and showing the mercy and compassion of Christ…bringing hope and healing to young and old alike…to a child who has just lost her Mother, a lonely woman in the nursing home who now has a regular Stephen Minister, a homebound gentleman in need of a friend, second graders dealing with sadness after losing a classmate, a grandmother mourning the losses at Sandy Hook, hospital staffers dealing with the daily stress of caring for others, offering comfort to a dying man, to a child waiting to speak with the social worker, and the list goes on and on. Our week is full, and I thought you might like to walk in my “paw prints” as I share what we do daily.
I start each day with a two to three mile walk. At that time I see all my friends…deer, turkeys, squirrels, a few cats, ducks, and Duke and Cody, my canine pals. After breakfast I am brushed, my teeth are cleaned, and I am ready to take on the day. Every Sunday I attend church and greet old and new friends before worship and during Bible Study hour. Like a good Lutheran, I sit in the back during the service! I usually sleep during the sermon, but the Pastors don’t seem to mind!
On Monday morning, my handler takes me to one of the local elementary schools where I interact with students as they go between classes, sometimes visiting with special needs children, and seeing others before counseling sessions. Judging from all the “pats” I get, I think they love seeing me! In the afternoon I visit an assisted living/memory care facility. It is wonderful to bring comfort to familiar faces as well as new friends each week.
The Child Advocacy Center welcomes me on Tuesday. During this outing, the children I meet are encouraged to pet me, brush me, or just talk to me. I am very good at keeping secrets, so they can tell me anything!! Many of these young ones are dealing with trying circumstances in their lives, and they say I bring a calming influence to them.
I have become a regular at the nursing home on Wednesday mornings, walking from room to room to greet everyone. Often, I rest while my handlers visit with the residents, many times sharing devotions and prayer. After we have seen everyone at the nursing home, our next stop is an assisted living facility near by. I have been invited to the gathering room where everyone is meeting for Bible Study and happy to see me and stroke my fur!
“Jewel’s here!!”…”there’s Jewel!!”…”can we pet her?” is a common refrain I hear on Thursday morning as I visit at National Health Care in Knoxville. I have many friends at this assisted living/rehab center including the staff who seem to come from all corners to see me. I’m really good at relieving the stresses and tensions of the day, and they are great at giving hugs and pats! In addition to making visits to rooms, one of my favorite places is the therapy center where I am in great demand! Someone once told me I was the very best medicine the Doctor could prescribe!
The week ends with Bible study on Friday. I always go early to run on the playground or go into the Christian Ministry Center to work on commands. It’s good for me to review, as sometimes I have a tendency to forget! The afternoon finds me at The Neighborhood right in Tellico Village. Again, the staff and patients look forward to my regular visit, sharing the comfort and compassion of Jesus Christ.
So, that is the week in the life of a Comfort Dog. My handlers and I continue to reach out to serve those in our community and East Tennessee. If you know of someone who would be blessed by a visit from me, please contact my Pastor at Christ Our Savior. I love to take road trips.
Jewel Philippians 2:3