EUGENE, Ore. — A Eugene therapy dog who responded to disasters across the country, including 9/11, passed away Friday. The dog’s owner is now sharing her pet’s heroic story.
When Cindy Ehlers got her dog Tikva 14 years ago, she never imagined how many lives her fluffy, grey Keeshond would touch. “It was all part of my dream and my vision after the Thurston High School shooting. When some tragedy happened they would be able to make use of therapy dogs,” said Ehlers.
For her first year as a therapy dog, Tikva comforted patients at local hospitals. Then in September of 2001, she was deployed to Ground Zero.
“A lot of firefighters looked at Tikva as if wow what kind of a search and rescue dog is that. Of Course I explained that she wasn’t that kind of search and rescue dog,” said Ehlers.
With a little bark, wag of the tail, or even a trick Tikva pulled at the heartstrings of 9/11 first responders. “She would in her gentlest way go up to him. Sometimes put her paws up, really softly on them and just have that empathetic look like I know what you’re going through,” said Ehlers.
After 9/11 she made many trips back east to visit those she met at Ground Zero, flew south to comfort those impacted by Hurricane Katrina, and even went to Northern Illinois University after a school shooting.
“The way she was so animated and she would look right at you and she would make these little head movements as if she knew what you were saying,” said Ehlers.
Even though Tikva’s not here to continue helping people through tough times, Ehlers is working to train her dog Zippy to take over where Tikva left off. She also knows there are now lots of dogs all throughout the country helping people, just like Tikva did.