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Zion Lutheran Church in Marengo raising funds for comfort dog

MARENGO – Chris Schulma is raising funds so Marengo’s Zion Lutheran Church can get a comfort dog.

Northbrook-based Lutheran Church Charities operates the comfort dog ministry, which sends comfort golden retrievers out into the community after disasters and for events.

Schulma would like her church to house one of the dogs and is fundraising to make it a reality.

The idea hatched when the dogs came to Zion Lutheran School after the sudden death of one of its popular teachers, Katie Kloess, Schulma said.

“The impact on children was amazing,” she said. “And adults, too. [The dogs] really brought peace and calm.”

Comfort dogs visited Marengo again after a home explosion that decimated the neighborhood on Seventh Circle in June.

Lutheran Church Charities trains the dogs for about a year and a half before the “passing of the leash” ceremony, where a dog officially can come home to an organization. A host family and backup host family will house the dog, who will have six to eight handlers, Schulma said.

After placement, that dog is available for events and other needs in Marengo and the surrounding community. It costs about $15,000 to get the dog, Schulma said.

The community largely has been supportive of the idea, she said.

“It’s just seeing people connect with each other, to come back out and talk,” Schulma said. “The dog acts as a conduit, a bridge. Everywhere needs that right about now.”

Anyone who wants to donate to the cause can visit www.razoo.com/story/Zionmarengocomfort or go to the church. As of Friday, $300 of the $20,000 goal for the online fundraising campaign had been reached.

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