A tornado victim’s best friend

June 12, 2013

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CANINE COMFORT: California resident Daniel Sievert and his therapy dogs Emerson (left) and Jake traveled to Hood County last week to provide comfort to tornado victims. Sievert headed to Oklahoma with the dogs on Sunday to comfort tornado victims there.

Daniel Sievert admits he hears voices. Whether it’s his own self-talk or God speaking to him could perhaps be open to debate, depending on one’s beliefs.

Sievert prefers to think it is God, and that his trip to Granbury from California with therapy dogs Jake and Emerson was due to Divine instruction.

The trio arrived here early last week and went straight to Lake Granbury Medical Center, where Sievert thought he might find some tornado victims. He didn’t – but he and his dogs found some Emergency Room personnel who had been affected by the tornado and seemed to appreciate the voiceless comfort of the two Golden Retrievers.

“I think even though we didn’t see a patient there from the tornado, we had a mission there,” said Sievert, 59.

At the Comfort Suites on Harbor Lakes Drive – where staffers gave Sievert, Jake and Emerson a room for several nights free of charge – they gave gentle friendship to tornado victims staying there.

Last Friday and Saturday night, the Hilton Garden Inn put out the welcome mat for the trio. They left on Sunday for Oklahoma to offer comfort to tornado victims there.

Sievert, who lives off of Social Security disability because of an electrical shock that nearly killed him almost 40 years ago, made the journey to Hood County from San Luis Obispo, Calif., with help from the donations of church members.

Their first missions of mercy had been to the site of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Sievert said that he and his therapy dogs ended up ministering to a supervisor in the city office that handles parking tickets. He received two in 24 hours, but they were dismissed after a hearing.

Sievert said that the supervisor teared up when the dogs quietly sat down in front of her. He said she told him that she had participated in the Marathon, and had finished the race just eight minutes before the bomb went off. She had witnessed the carnage.

Sievert said that the idea for ministering at places where tragedy has occurred sprang from his visits with Jake to the Emergency Room in his community.

Sievert said that he was at a fitness club, watching a news report about the Boston Marathon bombing, when he heard a voice say: “Go.”

“Call it self-talk, or call it God. But I heard the word ‘Go,’” Sievert said.

He stated that he also heard a voice when he started worrying about travel costs and the 277,000 miles he had on his Saturn.

“Just trust me.”

Sievert began making travel plans despite concerns over his banking account, and that was when church members began stuffing his palms with twenty-dollar bills and checks – one of which was for $500.

Since then, Jake and Emerson have provided comfort to unexpected people in unexpected places, their owner said.

He cites as an example an employee at a Starbucks who fell to her knees, embraced the gentle canines and then shared with Sievert that both her brother and her father had just been hospitalized.

And there were the people the trio encountered in Boston who had not been directly affected by the bombing, but had nevertheless been traumatized.

“I think,” said Sievert, “that we’re filling in the gap of the people that were missed.”

Outside Comfort Suites, Sievert demonstrated for the Hood County News how the trusting dogs obey his commands.

He may not have realized the correlation between his own relationship with God and the one his beloved pets have with him.

In a tone of gentle authority, Sievert told them: “Don’t think about it. Obey.”

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