TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - While local American Red Cross volunteers are on the ground in Louisiana, helping flood victims, another helper is on her way. And she walks on a leash.
Sometimes the best medicine for going through a trauma is a visit from a golden retriever. Trinity Lutheran Church on Glendale in south Toledo has sent their comfort dog, Anna, to one of the hardest-hit flooding areas of Louisiana.
It was an emotional sendoff from the church on Friday afternoon.
One church member and handler of Anna gave her a kiss and said, "You do what you're supposed to do, okay? Boots and paws on the ground."
There were tears from other members of the Trinity Comfort Dog Ministry as Anna left for the long ride. Her furthest deployment so far was to Minnesota this spring when a church building was lost in a fire.
Now, she's headed to Baton Rouge with two of her handlers, Nancy and Mack Borders, to help another Lutheran
"They had ten staff and 65 families out of the congregation displaced by the flooding so the congregation itself has been devastated," said Mack Borders.
They say their mission is bringing Christian compassion to the people they meet.
"When you see a furry group of Golden Retrievers coming into an area it's pretty overwhelming and it just brings smiles to people's faces and these people need something to smile about," said Nancy.
Anna will also bring her kind face to shelters and to hospitals where people injured in the flooding are being treated.
"That's really all we can do. Just being there, showing that someone cares," said Mack.
But saying goodbye before this nearly week-long deployment, wasn't easy, as there were more hugs for Nancy and Mack, along with words of encouragement for Anna.
One of the other handlers leaned down and said, "Be a good girl Anna. I know you will be."
When she arrives in Louisiana, Anna will be joined by seven other comfort dogs from around the country. One of them is her own sister, Tabby, who works in St. Louis, Missouri.