In the aftermath of a horror as great as the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, everyone wishes they could do something to help, but most of us simply can’t. Maybe dogs have an advantage over people, in that regard: The mere presence of a friendly, cuddly canine can make people feel better in a way few mere humans could hope to match.

And so the K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs, a group of friendly golden retrievers (and their handlers) arrived in Newtown last Saturday evening, initially gathering at Christ the King Lutheran Church and later going to the town high school to meet with survivors and President Obama.

The comfort dog program started in 2008 after the shootings at Northern Illinois University, and proved so successful that the dogs and their human companions have since traveled to comfort victims of other disasters throughout the country, in addition to everyday volunteer works like offering “pet therapy” to senior citizens.

The K-9 Parish Comfort Dogs’ Facebook page says, “These are trained Comfort Dogs for Lutheran Church Charities. They interact with people at churches, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, events and in disaster situations.”

Each comfort dog has its own Facebook page, updated by its human handlers. Not all the dogs who went to Newtown have posted about it as of press time, but Ruthie Comfort Dog posted a photo of herself and her canine colleagues Chewie, Luther, Abbi and Prince, along with their handlers, all preparing to go to Newtown.

On Friday, mere hours after news of Newtown horrified the world, Chewie posted a Facebook update noting that  

“I am leaving tomorrow am with my handler Lynn Buhrke to journey to CT and bring some comfort to the community devastated by the tragic shootings today. Please pray for safe travels and guidance!!”

After meeting with Newtown residents on Sunday, Luther Comfort Dog shared a photo of himself making “one girl smile today in Newtown, Connecticut,” and later posted a video link along with the note:

“I was on CNN tonight live! It's been an amazing day of bringing comfort to the people in Newtown, CT. Take a look at what they said about us on TV.”

Anyone wishing to donate to the K-9 Comfort Dog program for its work in Newtown can do so via page on crowdfunding site Razoo.

Photo via Luther Comfort Dog/Facebook