January 17, 2013

A Few Photos From Newtown: Crisis Dogs and Ties that Bind

Crisis dog Newtown

One of my regrets in following visual news is not following up enough to previous stories. That’s the lure of the news cycle, each subsequent event like the bright shiny object. It’s not like we haven’t been focused on gun control. What we haven’t done, however, is return to Newtown itself, a village that continues to suffer indescribable grief in the month since the massacre at the grade school.

At least two photos from Newtown stood out to us this week, each a measure of that emotional magnitude. The first shows what are known as “crisis comfort dogs” at a meeting at the elementary school about its future. What’s so noteworthy is this woman’s depth of pain, knowing how the therapeutic impact of such animals is well documented and how Beau,the dog, has also made such an empathic connection.


This second photo asks: how can people possibly survive the kind of loss these parents have experienced? Suggestive of the deeper bonds surely running throughout the town at this point, the photo (not to overlook the mural crowning Nicole Hockley’s head behind) says: “these hands hold me in place.”

(photo: Michelle McLoughlin/AP caption: Glen Hoffman, left, of Extra Mile Ministries with K9 crisis comfort dog Beau, listen during a community meeting at Newtown High school on the future of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. Talk about Sandy Hook Elementary School is turning from last month’s massacre to the future, with differing opinions on whether students and staff should ever return to the building where a gunman killed 20 students and six educators..)

(photo: John Moore/Getty Images caption: Nelba Marquez Greene (L) and Nicole Hockley (R) both mothers of Sandy Hook Elementary massacre victims, console each other during a press conference on the one month anniversary of the Newtown elementary school massacre on January 14, 2013 in Newtown, Connecticut. Eleven families of Sandy Hook massacre victims came to the event one month after the shooting to give their support to Sandy Hook Promise, a new non-profit with the goal of preventing such tragedies in the future.

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Michael Shaw
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