News: Caring canines honor fallen service members
Story by Nick D'Amario
FORT LEE, Va. - Cindy Robinson, Defense Contract Management Agency Contracts directorate executive assistant, and Sadie, her Labrador retriever, recently participated in an area Run for the Fallen event, which honored 350 service members who died in service to their country.
Robinson and Sadie were joined by seven other members and their therapy dogs of the Richmond–based Caring Canines group in support of the event.
“This was an opportunity for our group to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their nation, and offer our comfort and support for their survivors and other participants,” said Robinson, a retired Army veteran.
Among the more than 6,000 event participants who walked or ran nearly 20,000 miles were 98 family members of those being honored at the event.
Photographs representing those who made the ultimate sacrifice — from the Vietnam War through the nation’s most recent conflicts — were displayed for participants to pay tribute.
According to Angela Bellamy, Survivor Outreach coordinator for the Army Community Services here and organizer of the Run for the Fallen event, groups such as Caring Canines bring added value to the event.
“Every organization that comes out to support this event helps honor the memories of the fallen, and ensures that America’s sons and daughters are not forgotten,” said Bellamy.
The animals of Caring Canines, referred to as therapy dogs or comfort dogs, lavish their affection on those in need of a special, emotional nudge in the right direction. Founded in 1999, the all-volunteer group has a 147-membership that regularly visit dozens of facilities: independent living, assisted living and nursing homes, hospices, hospitals, rehabilitation and juvenile detention facilities, and libraries.
In 2013, Robinson and Sadie made more than 35 visits. Most recently, she and Sadie visited a Veterans Affairs hospital and held a Read to Rover session at the Chester Library. Read to Rover sessions help children become better readers by reading aloud to therapy dogs.
Robinson, who has been a member of Caring Canines since 2012, said her interest in the therapy dog group program comes from her love of volunteer work and the basic desire to give to others. “With Sadie, I cherish the opportunity to see her provide affection and comfort to others."