Special Dog Helps Comfort Students After School Shooting
"The emotion in the air is palpable. I'm thankful we took the time to come."
Kermit the therapy dog normally lives in Austin, Texas, where he helps people work through their grief.
But he happened to be in Florida with his human, Melissa Unfred, when a shooting at a high school in Parkland claimed the lives of 17 people.
Unfred — who originally adopted Kermit as her personal therapy dog to cope with her profession of being a mortician — knew that she and Kermit needed to visit the community to help in whatever way they could.
"It just so happened Kermit and I were in Florida when this tragedy occurred," Unfred wrote on Facebook on Wednesday, after news of the shooting spread all over the world. "Please hold a moment of reverence for this community in your thoughts, and remember to tell others you love them."
Donning his special vest that says, "Therapy dog. Please pet me," Kermit arrived at a community center in Parkland on Friday ready to help.
He rolled over on the grass so students who had survived the tragedy could stroke his belly.
Others knelt down and took Kermit's face in their hands, looking right into his eyes — and he happily gazed back at them.
Nothing much needed to be said — he was just there.
"It's surreal," Unfred told The Dodo. "There's a reverent and solemn feeling in the field. Students have come, along with community members. It's very somber and reflective."
"Kermit has been snuggled on by students and first responders alike, as well as volunteers," Unfred added. "The emotion in the air is palpable. I'm thankful we took the time to come."