Comfort dog visits NARFE meeting

The National Active and Retired Federal Employees Chapter 1309, based in the Northwest suburbs, welcomed JoJo Comfort Dog to its monthly luncheon meeting on Feb. 13.

The group meets at European Crystal Banquets in Arlington Heights on the second Wednesday of every month. In light of the recently ended government shut down, JoJo's visit was very appreciated.

JoJo, a 9-year- old golden retriever, is part of the Lutheran Church Charities affiliated Comfort Dog Ministry at Living Christ Lutheran Church on Dundee Road in Arlington Heights. JoJo was accompanied by one of her nine handlers, Gilda Karu, who also serves as the treasurer of NARFE Chapter 1309.

Karu talked about the Comfort Dog Ministry and explained that unlike many working dogs that should not be approached, a comfort dog's job is to be petted and to reflect Christ's love and make those who are visited feel good.

While comfort dogs and their handlers receive extensive training, the dogs are not therapy dogs. Comfort dog handlers are trained to work with the dogs, but also to listen and to pray with anyone wishing to do so.

JoJo has been on many deployments to disaster sites, including visiting children in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, in December, 2012, after the school shootings.

JoJo regularly visits nursing homes, preschools, funeral homes, libraries and other facilities when she is invited. She goes to Meadows and Clearbrook to help with weekly chapel services for residents.

JoJo is also on the cover of a newly published book by Peggy Frezon called "The Dog in the Dentist Chair and Other True Stories of Animals Who Comfort and Love Kids." JoJo's story is about her visits to a local pediatric dentist to help calm young patients.

Before and after lunch, JoJo visited with those attending the NARFE meeting and posed for a picture with some members of the group.

Membership in NARFE, a national organization, is open to active and retired federal employees and their families. In addition to lunch, monthly meetings feature speakers on a variety of topics, including health care, utility bills, taxes, safety and legislation.

Speakers have included elected officials and candidates. NARFE tracks legislation and advocates for federal employees and retirees on pay and benefits.

For information or to join NARFE, contact NARFE Marion W. Payne Chapter 1309 President Jim Glover at (847) 895-2881 or

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