Minnesota comfort dog going to Texas to help as Uvalde students return to school

This September, Lutheran Church Charities is sending 26 comfort dogs to Uvalde, Texas for the start of the school year.

After the horrible tragedy of last may’s mass school shooting, the dogs are needed for support as students return to class for the first time. One of the dogs filling that need comes from the Twin Cities. His name is Gideon and the 7-year-old golden retriever has an important job.

"The longer people are with him, the more they relax," Gideon’s handler Pam Lienemann explained.

In just a few weeks, Gideon is off for a deployment in Uvalde, to be present for students, teachers, parents, and bus drivers as they return for a new school year only months after a school shooting at Robb Elementary, that left 19 students and 2 teachers dead.

Seven-year-old Gideon from the Twin Cities will be one of the comfort dogs headed to Texas to help Uvalde students returning to school after last year's horrifying shooting. (FOX 9)

With his training for crisis response situations, Gideon is ready to help support a community that is anxious, sad, and maybe even scared about what lies ahead.

"When they start to pet him, they start to relax, and when they start to relax then they can talk, and when they start to talk they start to heal," Lienemann said. She has a front-row seat to watch as Gideon absorbs the stress from those around him, helping them to regain trust and stability.

Gideon will help Uvalde students transition back to class after tragedy. (FOX 9)

"To watch it is life-changing, truly life-changing for us, [the] best thing I’ve ever done," Lienemann said.

Once assigned to one of nine schools in the district, Gideon will work in Texas from September 18 through September 24, before returning to Minnesota for some well-deserved rest.