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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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