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New comfort dog on the block

CHARLESTON, Ill. (WCIA) -- For people living in Coles County, there's a new way to help get some comfort if you're having a rough day. 

Immanuel Lutheran Church in Charleston is now home to Rachel the Comfort Dog. The church has been working for years to bring her there.

They started the process in 2015 to get a comfort dog from Lutheran Church Charities. It's the national group that provides these dogs, and as Rachel has already shown, she's trained to interact with people of all ages.

"It doesn't seem to matter what the age is, she's good with everybody."

There's one age group that Rachel especially likes - children.

"So when she hears the kids voices here, she's trying to see them."

It takes a big team to bring a little bit of comfort to everyone who needs it.

Joelyn Akers is the top dog. Her team has eight handlers.

"She's been doing a lot of greeting here at our preschool here at Immanuel Lutheran."

It's where we caught up with Rachel at work. Ken Hoover is the pastor, and says helping people in new ways like this is their mission.

"We're seeing this as a great opportunity to connect with the community."

That means letting all the kids pet her. But they can travel as well.

"We've been to Eastern Illinois for de-stressing during finals."

They've been to Charleston High School, nursing homes and most recently they joined up with other several other comfort dogs in Taylorville to sooth those affected by last months tornado.

"That was our first out of town deployment."

Whether it's out of town or closer to home, there's always someone who can benefit.

"She's just very sweet she definitely has a sweet temperament. Nobody has ever said no I don't want to pet her at all, so usually they're very receptive to her."

Rachel is also what they call a dual vest comfort dog. Besides her normal colored vest, she's a Kare 9 military ministry dog as well. That means Rachel and her team are trained to deal with veterans.


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