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GSLC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry

Our next monthly meeting will be on Sunday, August 4, 12:30 pm in the Fellowship Room. (This is a temporary departure from our normal second Sunday meeting.) You’ll hear first-hand reports about the Comfort Dogs at the National Youth Gathering in Minneapolis, MN and the LCC K-9 National Conference in Northbrook, IL. For the latest K-9 ministry news, check out our church website: gslct.org>Ministries>Comfort Dog. Please see our display in the Social Hall for ministry information and puppies-in-training placement updates. ~Pam Youngdale, Top Dog/Coordinator

GSLC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry

Meeting Summary 6.9.19

  1. Team Building: By promoting our LCC Comfort Dog ministry in the community (and GSLC), we will be asked questions, including why our church is doing this when there might be “easier” alternatives. These will be our TEACHABLE moments!

  2. Ministry Moments: I was able to give copies of our new brochure to JoLynn DiGrazia of Westside Ministries. JoLynn would like to have our dog visit when they do their summer camp next year. I shared the vacationing Jamee Bollinger’s workplace CD conversation. Danna Shipman’s insurance agent is interested in updates about the ministry. Peter Buie has been asked about the ministry while wearing his t-shirt (per mom).

  3. GSLC Ministry Plan: Add Memorial Day observances at Turlock Memorial Park and Denair Cemetery, and National Cancer Survivor’s Day at Emanuel Cancer Center.

  4. Caregiver/Handler applications submitted:

Linda & Dennis Buie, Heidi & Joel Loesche. We continue to pray for a third caregiver applicant. The Lord will provide! Gen. 22:14

Handler applications submitted:

Sue Baldwin, Ed Juncker, Julia Gibson, Jim & Sandie Knapp, Bill & Traci Preuss, Pastor Ron & Pam Youngdale

  1. Central Valley affiliates: I met with St. Andrews, Stockton, Top Dog, Deb Rider on June 8. They are down to one caregiver and in need of more handler applicants. It is good to have a colleague like Deb to share the joys and challenges of coordinating our churches’ CD ministries. We need to be in prayer for them and also for Team Elk Grove as they train and bring home their dog at the end of June.

  2. Visitation report: I explained how GSLC was invited to assist as ministry partners when Team Aaron, Napa, was invited to visit with JROTC students at East Union HS, Manteca after a classmate’s tragic death in a car accident. What an opportunity for Heidi Loesche and for me to work alongside handler Linda Melsheimer and Aaron at a public high school. We went on to tell about the learning experience, ministering, and our personal highlights. We felt grateful to be able to assist with this visit.

  3. Ministry Partner Reports & Opportunities

    1. Fundraising:

      1. We sold 40 t-shirts mainly to team members, at cost, in May. For our second round, at $25 each, we have sold 22 as of June 9. We are taking orders until June 23. With a goal of at least 36 orders, our profit would be approximately $9 per shirt. Thanks to Susan Hall for overseeing this and for the Hardin’s “Mutt Lynch” wine basket, which will be randomly awarded to one lucky t-shirt purchaser. (FYI: The wine is their “Unleashed” chardonnay – cute?)

      2. On May 17 the Kiwanis Club of Greater Turlock awarded our ministry a $500 donation. I wasn’t soliciting donations when I spoke to their group in April, just informing them of the ministry with the desire to work with them on future events, so it was a very nice surprise! Tell President Larry DeBora “thanks” when you get a chance.

      3. There is still interest in an all-church BBQ fundraiser “Dog Days of Summer.” We discussed some potential dates later in August. I will check with Pastor Ron about reserving a spot on the church calendar. Breaking News!! Traci and Bill Preuss have volunteered to head up the food part. Jeanne Hardin will help coordinate raffle baskets. Stay tuned on this!

    2. Vet & Groomer: No update at this time, other than after observing the “grooming” session at the recent regional conference, our team is in agreement that we will need a REALLY good groomer!

    3. Public relations:

      1. Jamee Bollinger, LCC K-9 “Top Fan,” continues to post weekly on Facebook and Instagram. Now that she is done with the current pups-in-training focus, she has ideas for new posts going forward. She has also written a draft outline for the vision of our social media posts.

      2. Laura Gibson, youth liaison, has been busy writing for the “K-9 Korner” in our church News & Notes. Her bi-monthly articles are intended to inform and educate our congregation about some of the fundamental concepts and clear up confusions about the CD ministry. Laura has responded to three questions so far. She is going to include her email address in the future so people can contact her with questions for upcoming articles.

      3. I’m in charge of articles re: team meetings, fundraisers, and information for our News & Notes and website. I’m also helping with ideas for the Sunday worship projection slide loop and announcements.

      4. I attended “Coffee with the (Turlock Police) Chief” on April 20 and was able to share about our ministry with the Chief and about 25 community members who were there to informally discuss concerns. I definitely had the most positive news to share! A few people came up to me afterwards to request a brochure, and I was also able to also give our Chief a brochure about the LCC K-9 Police Ministry. He asked me to bring him some additional brochures, which I did the following week.

      5. Twenty members of our team wearing our new team shirts , including all of our caregiver and handler applicants, attended the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog West Coast Region Conference at St. John’s, Napa on May 11. There were five dogs, including Marie and Micah, pups-in-training. Our first session on “Faith Telling” really set the foundation for our day: It’s not about the dog. It’s about Jesus and who He is to us! There were breakout sessions specifically for expecting teams like us including teamwork, communication, and transitioning once we have our dog. We were also able to observe handler and dog training, grooming, massage (the dog’s!), and even playing. I was so encouraged that most of the conference attendees were able to engage and debrief at my house the following Friday evening in our backyard with delicious beverages and snacks. Fun group!

    4. Other:

      1. The ministry has received two more donations – one more in memory of Emma Kroeker ($100) and one from Carol Barnes ($50).

  4. Devotion: “The Lord Will Provide” Genesis 22:14 God tested Abraham’s faith, and he proved to be faithful. We thank the Lord for His provision. We ask for His help to trust that He will provide (caregivers, funds, supplies, opportunities . . .) even when it seems we’ve been waiting for so long. Our Daily Bread – May 11, 2019

  5. Next meeting: Sunday, July 14, 12:30 pm. Blessings! ~Pam







K-9 Comfort Dog






Now through June 23 we are accepting orders for our official GSLC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry T-shirt. The cost is $25 and all proceeds will go to the ministry for team training and travel, and supplies for our dog. However, these shirts have an even higher purpose than raising funds. By purchasing and WEARING one of our shirts in PUBLIC, you will be bringing AWARENESS to our community and hopefully ENGAGING in conversations about Comfort Dogs, Good Shepherd, and our mission to bring mercy, compassion, and God’s presence to Turlock and beyond.



All orders are automatically entered into a drawing for a “Mutt Lynch Winery” basket donated by Tom & Jeanne Hardin. See Susan Hall or Pam Youngdale in the Social Hall after our worship services to place your order or you can download an order form below. Thank you for your support! -Pam Youngdale



 Download Order Form Here




GSLC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry

Meeting Summary 4.14.19


  1. Team Building: “Doing mission accelerates our understanding of mission.” (See attachment)

  2. Ministry Moment: We viewed a 2018 video produced by Team Aaron of some of their ministry moments. Pam shared how hearing Romans 15:4-6 on K-LOVE was teaching her about patience. Jeanne Hardin also shared about her autistic grandson’s amazing experience with Aaron at our 2017 church picnic.

  3. GSLC Ministry Plan: Add the annual Kiwanis Christmas Shopping event for children in need, with Larry DeBora as our contact.

  4. Caregiver/Handler applications submitted:

    Joel & Heidi Loesche, Dennis & Linda Buie (primary), keep praying for one more!

    Handler applications submitted:

    Sue Baldwin, Ed Juncker, Julia Gibson, Jim & Sandie Knapp, Bill & Traci Preuss, Pastor Ron & Pam Youngdale

  5. Team Aaron visit: Several positive insights on the March 10 visit were shared. The Q&A was informative!

  6. Central Valley affiliates: Pam met with the Elk Grove Top Dogs on April 13. They are set for training and bringing their dog home June 28. The tentative date for their vesting service is Sunday, August 11. Stockton (not present) is still in need of handler applicants and one more caregiver applicant.

  7. Ministry Partner Reports & Opportunities

    1. Fundraising: Tom Hardin shared about his daughter’s dog-themed Sonoma County winery, Mutt Lynch, and having a “Dog Days of Summer BBQ”, possibly with wine tasting, raffle items, etc. Definitely something to explore as an annual fundraising event. Lisa Mackenzie-Miller will be working with Linda Buie on team t-shirts which will also evolve into a fundraiser.

    2. Vet & Groomer: Susan Prier explained that as soon as we know our date for bringing home our dog she will contact Dr. Santos’ office to set up the first appointment. We will need to look into pet health insurance. No leads on a groomer yet.

    3. Public relations:

      1. Everyone received one of our new affiliate-in-process brochures to give to someone in our community.

      2. Pam met with our youth group on April 7 to educate, elicit their ideas, and encourage their involvement in the ministry. She plans to return soon to follow up with them. She also asked Laura Gibson to be her liaison with our youth group. Pam and Laura are working on bi-monthly K-9 informational articles for our weekly News & Notes.

      3. Pam reported on her April 12 Kiwanis presentation, what she learned from the experience, and some of the questions she was asked. The team encouraged her to continue preparing the community while we await our Comfort Dog.

      4. Pam will attend “Coffee with the (Turlock Police) Chief” on April 20. Other community possibilities were shared by the team, which Pam furiously jotted down! Pam will meet with Rob Geiger to plan for future presentations.

      5. Twenty members of our team, including all of our caregiver and handler applicants, will attend the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog West Coast Region Conference at St. John’s, Napa on May 11. This will replace our regular 2nd Sunday ministry meeting.

    4. Other:

      1. The ministry has received donations in memory of Emma Kroeker, church member and canine friend. (Her son, Randy, is Top Dog at The Rock Lutheran Church in Seward, NE. Pam and Pastor were able to meet him for coffee one morning while he was here in Turlock to chat about CD ministry.)

      2. Pam stressed she is trying hard not to overwhelm team member inboxes, but it is important to read CD email promptly. There is too much information during our building stage, some time-sensitive, to be presented once a month.

      3. Pastor and Pam are registered for the LCC K-9 National Conference, July 24-26, in Northbrook, IL. They will arrive rested (?) from their family vacation in Central Minnesota.

  8. Devotion: “More Than Just Waiting” Acts 1:4-11 As we wait on God, it doesn’t mean doing nothing or impatiently rushing forward. Instead we can pray, worship, and enjoy fellowship (and tell others about our ministry!) as we anticipate what he’ll do. The waiting prepares our hearts, minds, and bodies for what’s to come. Our Daily Bread - May 4, 2019



Sunday, April 7, 2019

On behalf of the Good Shepherd K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry Team I would like to share some EXCITING news, some GREAT news, and a BIG prayer request.

  • EXCITEMENT! As you know, we are one of three churches in CA expecting an LCC K-9 Comfort Dog. Our close expecting affiliate, Light of the Valley Lutheran Church, Elk Grove, just received their team training dates. They will travel to Northbrook, IL for training June 26-28 and return to Elk Grove with their dog!

  • GREAT news! Nine of our Good Shepherd Comfort Dog Ministry team members have answered God’s call and successfully submitted their handler applications to LCC. A few more are in progress. We can be proud of them for taking this step and making this commitment. Can we use more handler applicants? Yes, but they need to be done soon! Then it will be in LCC’s hands to determine who will fill these positions on our team once our Skype interviews are scheduled and completed.

  • PRAYER request: Our ministry is still in need of two more caregiver applicants. This is our #1 need for prayer at this stage in our goal to be an LCC K-9 Comfort Dog affiliate. Spouses must both apply and, if accepted, attend an additional day of our team’s training in Northbrook. This is a serious commitment. I see the caregivers as being a “team within a team.” They will work together with their schedules to provide safe and secure home environments to a very well trained, hard-working dog where it can rest and play. I can’t even begin to imagine the blessings that are in store for the caregiver team!

Our application will be stalled until we have enough caregiver applicants, and other churches with complete teams may move ahead of us in line for our dog. I am asking that you add this need to your prayers. The continued support, encouragement, and prayers from our congregation are vital. I am trusting that God will supply this ministry’s EVERY need, and that includes PATIENCE!

~Pam Youngdale, Top Dog/Coordinator



Team Turlock K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry

Meeting Summary 3.10.19


  1. Team Aaron members were introduced and lunch was provided by our “Food and Fellowship” Partners.

  2. Team Building: “We cannot make the river go back, but we can join Jesus as he leads us forward to build the next span.” (See attachment)

  3. Ministry Moment: Sometimes we overlook opportunities to share about our ministry, but with our growing awareness of our missional eyes, ears, and responses, they will become more obvious to us. Craig guarantees!

  4. GSLC Ministry Plan: Dave Wallace was added as a ministry contact because of his involvement with City of Turlock Emergency Preparedness and HAM Radio Emergency Readiness.

  5. Caregiver & Handler: Pam completed her online handler application and shared tips. The link has been sent out to the entire team. Please fill out and submit as soon as possible. We have one family applying for caregiver, but we need at least two more . . . soon!

  6. Ministry Partner Reports & Opportunities

    1. Fundraising: We need to start planning for acquiring dog necessities and accessories. A puppy shower and Prime Shine Car Wash coupons have been suggested so far.

    2. Vet & Groomer: Susan Prier met with Dr. Santos who would donate his services for annual routine vet visits, etc. Are there other vets we should check with? Groomers?

    3. Public relations:

      1. K-9 banner is installed on corner flagpole.

      2. New “affiliate-in-process” brochures are ordered.

      3. Pam will present to Kiwanis on April 12.

      4. Rob Geiger has volunteered to help with future presentations.

      5. Cameron Loesche photographed today’s visit and will share photos with Jamee Bollinger.

    4. Other:

      1. The ministry received a $150 donation from Margo Patterson, ASL translator.

      2. Jamee is creating and posting weekly on Facebook (Good Shepherd Lutheran, Turlock) and Instagram (gslcturlock). Her goal is to start working on a vision and planning for future posts. Please “like and share” her posts!

      3. Pam will meet with Linda Buie about Team shirts. (Met 3.12.19)

      4. Pam will open our K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry account at F&M Bank. (Opened 3.12.19)

  7. Devotion: When we’re quick to judge based on appearance or behavior, we may be passing up a golden opportunity to help someone in need. From “Miss Grumpy,” Pawz and Pray

  8. Post-meeting Q&A with Team Aaron Handler, Craig Underhill, and Ministry Partners, John & Pam Foottit (1:45-3:00 pm)  


Update 3.12.19


The LCC K-9 West Coast Regional Meeting is back on and scheduled for Saturday, May 11. (Good Shepherd has offered to host but that has not been confirmed yet.)


Please put this on your calendars, especially if you are a caregiver/handler applicant. Anastasia, the head dog trainer in Northbrook, IL, will be flying out to work with us. It will be an ideal opportunity to learn and connect with our West Coast affiliates, their teams, and of course, their dogs! Stay tuned . . .

The next monthly meeting of Team Turlock K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry is Sunday, April 14, 12:30 pm in the Fellowship Room. And don't forget to check out our display in the Social Hall for ministry information and updates on when and where the current puppies-in-training are placed.

~Pam Youngdale, Top Dog/Coordinator




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Team Turlock K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry

Meeting Summary 2.10.19


  1. Team Building: Our missional mindset - Jesus does not give us a mission to do for him. He is on a mission and invites us to come with him. We can do this, with our dog!

  2. I shared a “Ministry Moment” with an Uber driver in Chicago last summer while on my way to the LCC K-9 National Conference. Danna had one with her card-making class. Be on the lookout for these moments as you tell others about our ministry. We’ll be sharing them every month. Imagine what it will be like when we actually have our dog!

  3. Revisions to our GSLC Ministry Plan were shared; revised copy attached.

  4. Caregiver and Handler information was discussed. Pam shared the recent experience of Team Elk Grove’s Skype interviews and tips to help us when we are ready to start submitting our applications. (No fibbing, Rob G!)

  5. A list of “Ministry Partner Opportunities” and who wants to fill them was distributed based on forms that had been returned prior to the meeting; revised copy attached. Let me know if you see any errors or omissions. Some of you already have assignments and some of you will soon!

  6. We went over the “to do” list. For now I could use a “coordinator” for each of the following roles:

    1. Visitation partner

    2. Fundraising

    3. Food/fellowship

These roles had the most sign-ups and it would be a great help to me communication-wise as we move forward. Once our team is more fully formed, I’d like for us to have a directory for the ministry.

We also need to continue recruitment for our team. There are people who just need to be asked. You can see from the list we need more caregiver and handler applicants, especially caregiver.

I revealed a picture of a banner that Linda Buie has designed, which will attach to one of the flagpoles at Main & Minaret. “We are expecting a (logo) K-9 Comfort Dog” banner will be ordered and installed this month.

  1. From our devotion: The greatest “healing” gift we receive from a dog is       unconditional love. Amen?

Next meeting Sunday, March 10, 12:30 pm with Team Aaron Comfort Dog! Lunch will be served. If you’re considering the caregiver or handler roles or just curious, please remain after the meeting for Q&A with Aaron’s handlers, Craig & Karol Underhill and ministry partners, John and Pam Foote. ~Pam Youngdale

Comfort Dog Ministry Upate January 13, 2019


When 36+ people turn out for the start of a new outreach ministry, it's worth noting and celebrating! It is also important for me to thank YOU for your patience this past year and for us all to thank GOD for His work in bringing us together to begin our Team Turlock LCC K-9 Comfort Dog ministry. I'm eager to see where God plans to use YOU, YOUR gifts, and where He leads US as a team.


For those of you who are considering serving the ministry as a K-9 caregiver and/or handler, you will be receiving a separate email with an update and clarification of information from Sunday's meeting.


If you are thinking of serving in a NON-DOG HANDLING capacity, please turn in your "Ministry Partner Opportunities" form to me or the church office as soon as possible. My brain is swirling with a growing to-do list that needs YOU! And if you're still a little hesitant, start small. In my family we call it "baby steps." Pray, trust God, take a step, and I firmly believe He will guide you to your niche in this ministry.


Please feel free to communicate at any time your questions, concerns, or clarifications. I'm humbled to be on this journey with you as "neighborhood missionaries", sharing the mercy, compassion, presence, and proclamation of Jesus Christ to those suffering and in need. ~Pam Youngdale 2 Cor. 1:3-4



Comfort Dog Ministry Update 12.19.18


Pam Youngdale, accompanied by Pastor Ron, was able to attend LCC K-9 Comfort Dog “Top Dog” training at LCC headquarters in Northbrook, Illinois Dec. 3-5. Six other trainees from expecting churches across the nation joined us. We are now (more) equipped to begin building the ministry team we will need to serve our community. (See details below.)



  • Aaron Comfort Dog along with Craig and Karol Underhill from St. John’s, Napa joined us for worship, fellowship, and our first ever service of “Comfort and Hope” on December 9. It was a great opportunity for more of our congregation and community to interact with Aaron, his handlers, and the ministry. There were many ministry moments, both expected and unexpected!

  • The first official monthly meeting of Team Turlock K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry will be Sunday, January 13, 2019, 12:30-1:30 pm, in the Fellowship Room. If you are interested in being a part of this new, exciting ministry of our church, please plan on attending. You will be updated on the process and progress of the ministry. The various ministry roles (most of which do not involve handling the dog) will be explained and how your gifts can be used “to show the mercy, compassion, presence, and proclamation of Jesus Christ to those suffering and in need” in our community.


    ~Pam Youngdale, Top Dog/Coordinator

Sunday Announcement 11.25.18                                                             

     (LCC K-9 Dogs in Training projection slide)

  •  I will attend “Top Dog” training in Northbrook, IL next week, Dec. 3-5, with Pastor Ron. This training will enable me to take our ministry planning to the next level. I will post a report of my training on the church website when I return.
  • For ongoing updates about the ministry, please refer to our church website (gslct.org) for now. There is too much information to regularly put in News & Notes. To make frequent announcements in church is not efficient and is too hit or miss with regard to keeping our church members informed. “Comfort Dog” is listed under the Ministries menu. 
  • If you have already filled out a K-9 Comfort Dog interest form, you will be contacted about our first ministry meeting – sometime in January. There are interest forms available at the information center in our Social Hall. Just complete one, give it to me, or leave it at the church office.

  • Team Aaron (Napa) and Team Reuben (Yuba City) have been very busy since October, especially with the Carr Fire in Redding and Camp Fire in Paradise. (If you follow them on Facebook or Instagram you know what I mean.) We are working on another date for a visit and ministry event but it is not confirmed yet. They are so excited that Elk Grove, Stockton, and Good Shepherd are in line to join them in ministry next year. These teams are definitely stretched right now.

  • Finally, to paraphrase Napa’s Pastor Schmid: “For a creature without opposable thumbs, the Comfort Dogs sure open a lot of doors.” God is preparing us now for the doors that will be opening in our Good Shepherd community and beyond with OUR dog, maybe one of these! (See slide.)  ~ Pam Youngdale, GSLC LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry Coordinator




Comfort Dog Update 10.27.18

Susan Prier, Judy Ranheim, Pastor Ron, and Pam Youngdale attended the LCC K-9 West Coast Region Gathering at St. John’s, Napa, CA, on Saturday, Oct. 20. Current affiliates in Napa, Las Vegas, and Yuba City were represented as well as “expectant” congregations in Elk Grove, Stockton, and another one in Las Vegas. (Two congregations in Washington were unable to attend.)

After an opening devotion by Pastor Mike Schmid (who is allergic to dogs, but appreciates and supports the ministry), teams were introduced and upcoming dates for the 2019 national conference and next year’s regional gatherings were shared.

Throughout the day, we viewed and discussed several videos from last July’s national conference, including featured speakers, K-9 training, and social media best practices. We ended with hearing the experiences of handlers of Team Aaron and Team Reuben at two recent deployments: the Carr Wildfire in Redding, CA, and the one-year remembrance of the Las Vegas, NV, shooting. This sharing and the subsequent Q&A were a highlight for our team.

Team Good Shepherd was blessed by the encouragement of our veteran teams at this gathering, their excitement and support for our future partnership, and the opportunity to engage with our extended Comfort Dog family. The next regional gathering will be on Saturday, April 27, 2019.

Other news . . .

  • The offering from the recent CNH Pastors’ Conference was designated for the two current LCC K-9 Comfort Dog affiliates in the district, Team Aaron and Team Reuben. They chose to share it with the three expectant congregations in the district. We are grateful for their generous gift of $200 for our ministry.

  • The next planning meeting of Central Valley “Top Dogs” (Elk Grove, Stockton, Turlock) is Nov. 3 in Stockton.

  • Pam Youngdale will be attending “Top Dog” training Dec. 3-5, 2018, in Northbrook, IL. This training is the next required step for building our ministry at GSLC.

Finally, a favorite quote from Pastor Schmid’s devotion: “For a creature without opposable thumbs, Aaron Comfort Dog sure opens a lot of doors.” God, guide and prepare us for the doors that will be opening in our Good Shepherd community with OUR dog! ~Pam Youngdale 2 Cor. 1:3-4


Comfort Dog Update 10.21.18

 2 Corinthians 1:3-4


Pastor Ron, Judy Ranheim, Susan Prier and I will be attending the second LCC K-9 West Coast Region Gathering on October 20 at St. John’s, Napa, CA. We will take part in LCC video-training, team building, and taking the dogs out for ministry events. I have also been given a tentative date for my “Top Dog” training: Dec. 3-5 at LCC Headquarters in Northbrook, IL. Look for next updates here and on our church website, gslct.org>ministries>Comfort Dog. ~Pam Youngdale

Comfort Dogs & Church Picnic Update 9/9/18

The only thing keeping a couple of GOOD dogs away from a GREAT Good Shepherd picnic is WORK and that is exactly the situation on September 30. Team Reuben and Team Aaron have been requested to return to Las Vegas, NV, one year after the horrific shooting that took place there. They will revisit victims, first responders, and personnel from other agencies involved in the aftermath of the deadly tragedy. We can be grateful that their ministry is recognized as being so valuable in aiding the recovery of these people. I will be working with their teams to reschedule a visit to Good Shepherd in the near future.

~Pam Youngdale, GSLC Comfort Dog Ministry Coordinator


Coming (Back) to a Picnic Near You!

You can’t keep a couple of GOOD dogs away from a GREAT Good Shepherd picnic! Yes, Aaron Comfort Dog and Reuben Comfort Dog and their teams from St. John’s, Napa and First Lutheran, Yuba City will be joining us for worship and our church picnic on September 30th. This will be another perfect opportunity for you to learn more from the “pros” about the K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry and to ask your questions, all in the presence of two friendly and comforting Golden Retrievers. Please join us in once again welcoming Team Aaron and Team Reuben, our partners in K-9 ministry, to Turlock. We’re PAWSitively excited!


~Pam Youngdale, GSLC Comfort Dog Ministry Coordinator

August 11, 2018


You’re expecting?? How exciting!! That’s awesome!! I’m so happy for you!! Do you know when?”


I can’t think of very many instances when those comments would be the first reactions to Ron and I sharing the news that we are expecting. However, this was the consistent response we received when sharing that we were there at the recent 7th Annual Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry Conference in Northbrook, Illinois, representing Good Shepherd, an “expectant K-9” congregation in Turlock, CA.


Approximately 500 participants and nearly 100 LCC K-9 Comfort Dogs, Kare 9 Military Dogs, and Police Ministry Dogs came together for renewal, sharing, and learning. Pastor Ron and I gathered with handlers and K-9s for two days of inspirational worship, thought-provoking keynote speakers, instructive breakout sessions, and opportunities to engage and network with individuals and teams who make up the ministry across 23 states. This year’s theme, With Me . . . On the Road, was based on the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. We were challenged to better understand the question, “Who is my neighbor?”


Pam’s highlights of the conference:

  •  Breakout session “God’s Perfect Timing” with Dona Martin was specifically for congregations in the process of starting a K-9 ministry. We reviewed steps in the process, timing, roles and responsibilities, and best ministry practices while waiting for training dates. It was emphasized to us throughout the conference that K-9 training is taking closer to 18 months (rather than 12) and we mark our wait time from the date we submitted our application and deposit: March 2018. (They are very firm on this.)
  •  Another breakout session we attended with timely relevance for Good Shepherd was “Telling the K-9 Story” with CEO and President, Tim Hetzner. As we are asked to speak or to give presentations to various groups in our community, we will need resources to use in telling the K-9 Story. He shared a lot of practical information about preparing and tailoring our presentation based on our audience and the time given to speak, as well as links to assist in preparing PowerPoint presentations.
  • On Thursday night, LCC invited the public to a “Meet and Greet” to give supporters of the K-9 Ministry a chance to meet the K-9s and ministry teams that they follow and have come to love. Over 600 people were welcomed to love on the dogs, and it was truly a sight to behold!

  •  Networking! We met with our West Coast Region right after we arrived Wednesday night. Being one of four new affiliates (Bellevue, WA and Elk Grove, Stockton, and Turlock CA), all in various stages of “gestation,” we appreciated that opportunity for sharing and learning. But there were many other informal chances to share and learn from each other throughout the conference and we took advantage of every minute. And when we weren’t engaged with our own region, we had many meaningful encounters with other ministries across the country, LCC staff, and dog trainers. Sometimes it was hard to catch our breath because everywhere we turned there was another chance to engage and learn and pet (another) dog.
  •  K-9 Ministry in action. While we were conferencing, the Carr wildfire was breaking out in Redding. We observed the communication that was taking place between LCC and Team Aaron and Team Reuben and their possible and then inevitable deployments to minister to evacuees and first responders. Team Reuben flew home that Saturday after the conference and deployed to evacuation centers on Sunday.
  •  I can’t end the highlights without specifically mentioning “the Dogs.” We were surrounded by their unconditional love and comfort for the entire conference. They attended every worship service, conference event, meal, and breakout session with us. If they weren’t resting underneath our conference tables, they were actively working and training during the breaks. And you could definitely tell how much the Hilton Hotel staff loved being able to host this conference, despite the extra work involving fur removal. 

So, what’s next?

  1.  Building our ministry team – There are so many jobs needed, most of which do not require actually handling the K-9. I will be updating the job descriptions with information I received at the conference. In the meantime, if you haven’t filled out an interest inventory, please pick one up in the social hall and return it to me or to the church office. A goal is to begin meeting as a team later this fall.
  2. Collaborating with our region – This is really a “me” job for right now. Attending the conference and getting to know our partners in ministry was a big step in this direction.

  3. Deploying with our Yuba City and Napa teams – Since we are officially in the K-9 family, we will be invited to go as observers to deployments and events, including here in our own community. Learning the ministry by doing the ministry is a powerful teaching strategy. I will be advising you when those opportunities avail themselves to us, such as the recent invitation to deploy to the wildfires, but I’d also like to hear from you about any local events where you think the Comfort Dogs could possibly assist.

 Finally, when Jesus calls us to be “With Me . . . On the Road,” we are to “go and follow” where he leads us. In the K-9 Comfort Dog family we are to trust Him to go and serve WHOM and WHERE he wants us to serve – with the Mercy, Compassion, Presence, and Proclamation of Jesus Christ to those who are suffering and in need.


So Good Shepherd, are you . . . With Me? ~Pam Youngdale, Coordinator


We’re Expecting!



That’s how our congregation is referred to in the LCC K-9 Comfort Dog Family since we are “expecting” our Comfort Dog next year. Pastor Ron and I were able to be a part of our extended “family” at the recent, first-ever LCC K-9 West Coast Region Conference at Napa Valley College on April 14. In addition to Teams Aaron and Reuben, Team Lois from Las Vegas, and Julia and her trainer from the Northbrook, IL headquarters were in attendance. We got an up-close look into the on-going training and practice that goes into maintaining a successful handler and dog team in addition to viewing educational videos, reviewing documents, and networking with handlers from our region.


Please pray for God’s blessing, guidance, and provision for this ministry in our gestational months.

  ~Pam Youngdale, coordinator


Praise God, Good Shepherd!

Our application to become an affiliate of Lutheran Church Charities K9 Comfort Dog Ministry is approved and we have paid our deposit. This now places us in line for OUR dog, a 12-18 month wait. What a humbling honor and privilege we have before us to work alongside LCC to bring this “bridge of compassionate   ministry” to our community. Please pray as we now move forward to build our ministry team with the mission of sharing “the mercy, compassion, presence, and proclamation of Jesus Christ” alongside OUR dog! All glory to Him!

                                                                                              ~Pam Youngdale, Coordinator



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