On this, the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, I would like to remember my many students who lost their lives in the towers and also Comet, my corgi, who comforted families and grieving loved ones in the aftermath of that eventful day. The Upledger Institute, with the direction of Tad Wanveer, organized a trauma relief outreach team offering free CranioSacral therapy sessions for many days to anyone who wanted to participate. We met at the Swedish Massage Institute, and Comet and I reported to our first day of multiple hands-on sessions. At the end of the day, Comet both a service and a therapy dog, was asked not to return due to restrictions about dogs at the Massage Institute. A physical therapy client of mine had connected me with his friends in New York, who had provided me and Comet with an apartment. When the owners of this empty apartment, both psychologists whom I never actually met, learned that Comet could not continue to work with me, they offered to care for him. I suggested they bring him to their sessions, instructing them on how to observe signs of stress in him, and how to do TTouch ear work to sustain him.
Comet spent nearly two weeks working with the grieving and dazed people of New York as a Comfort Dog, with two skilled strangers leading psychotherapy sessions. He remained buoyant and playful throughout this time, and the psychologists left me notes describing Comet’s work each day. Many days later, we left New York, knowing that each of us had brought comfort and healing to the people of the city. When Comet died just two years ago, he was one of the oldest remaining dogs who had worked in the aftermath of 9/11.
My other corgi, Winston, had died just after 9/11, and a shaman friend told me then that she knew of many corgis who had crossed the rainbow bridge at that time. She suggested that when children are grieving, the corgis, known for their playful and optimistic nature, are called to heaven to comfort them in their dreams. It seemed fitting that Comet, like Winston, was able to help.
On this day of National mourning, I’d like to remind everyone to take notice of the love their pets bring to their lives, and to remember the many contributions of dogs after disasters and every day–the Comfort Dogs at Sandy Hook, the rescue dogs in Italy and at 9/11, the therapy dogs who visit nursing homes, the dogs who go to libraries and schools to encourage reading, and the horses who benefit so many in therapeutic riding programs, including those supporting veterans with PTSD. Animals enrich our lives particularly in the worst of times, and I encourage everyone to honor all animals today with TTouch heart hugs, circular movements with your hands crossed over your heart, as you feel gratitude for the everyday miracles that animals bring to us.