Pet Therapy
Hope Animal-Assisted Crisis Response
Ground Zero

“Her name is Tikva. That means “hope’ in Hebrew…”

“Some men are sitting in chairs, others on 5 gallon buckets staring as their comrades sift carefully through debris, hoping for any sign of life. No one is talking. A multitude of expressions sweep over their dirt stained faces as we approach one of the many stations around the “pile’. When they find out that the dogs are brought in to see them, some joke, others ask what it is that the dogs do. I make my way towards them and ask Tikva to go say “hi.” Her enthusiasm changes to calm. She becomes keen on making her way towards a man sitting and staring at the pile. She touches her nose to his knee, as he reaches out to pat her, she lifts her paws up towards his lap as if she too is reaching. He carefully lifts her into his lap and is surprised to feel the softness of her fur. She tucks her face into the crook of his arm and waits for his fingers to massage her. Perhaps she too is seeking comfort. We remain at this site for about 2 hours. Conversation is lighthearted with one while another strokes Tikva’s fur, sharing about his experience of the last 12 days.”

WTC site Sept 23, 2001- Journal account of Animal

Assisted Crisis response 2001

“The mayor’s office asked us to accompany families on the Ferry Boats. We would go to the site for part of the day, then to VMAT for decontamination and then make our way to the Family Assistance Center to accompany a family. A woman waiting to board the ferry boat reaches towards Tikva. ” I can’t believe you are here,” she whispers. As Tikva draws closer, the woman leans over, reaches toward her and begins to hug her, burying her face deeper into the fur on her neck and begins to cry. She looked at her badge and said, “her name is Tikva, that means Hope in Hebrew and I am Jewish”. She makes the comment that her husband loved dogs more than anything except her and that he had a merle blue collie. She thinks Tikva looks like his dog before they got together. She remarks that this thing that just happened is a gift to her husband and a sign to giver her hope and strength.”

Family Assistance Center Pier 94 Sept. 2001

– Cindy Ehlers

Founder, Hope Animal-Assisted Crisis Response