A paws-itive presence: Edmond church hosts ceremony for Rufus Comfort Dog'

Rufus Comfort Dog was the focus of a recent Passing of the Leash ceremony at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Edmond.
by Carla Hinton Published: August 30, 2014


photo - 
All of the Lutheran Church Charities Comfort Dogs attending the recent Passing of the Leash ceremony for Rufus Comfort Dog pose for a picture with their handlers and helpers at St. Mark Lutheran Church, 1501 N Bryant in Edmond. Koey  Keylon, a member of St. Mark, and Rufus Comfort Dog are third from left. Photo by Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman
All of the Lutheran Church Charities Comfort Dogs attending the recent Passing of the Leash ceremony for Rufus Comfort Dog pose for a picture with their handlers and helpers at St. Mark Lutheran Church, 1501 N Bryant in Edmond. Koey Keylon, a member of St. Mark, and Rufus Comfort Dog are third from left. Photo by Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman

Though he was joined by several of his furry “partners in comfort,” a golden retriever named Rufus was clearly the center of attention on a recent Sunday morning at St. Mark Lutheran Church.

Rufus padded quietly to the front of the sanctuary, where he “graduated” from training status to full-fledged comfort dog in front of his new church family and special guests gathered at 1501 N Bryant.

The dog’s status change was the highlight of a Passing of the Leash ceremony Aug. 24 at the church.

The Rev. Mark Erler, senior pastor, predicted Rufus Comfort Dog would aid the congregation in its quest to share Christ with others.

“Rufus is going to take us places and to people that we would never ordinarily see, so that we can share Jesus, so that we can offer comfort,” Erler told those gathered.

Church member Koey Keylon, whose parents have a comfort dog, agreed.

“It may seem like it is about the dogs, but what today is about is getting out and touching lives,” Keylon told the church.

“Dogs are a bridge. They draw people. They start a conversation.”

Every dog has its day

Erler said the St. Mark congregation decided to start its own comfort dog ministry through the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog Program after hosting Moses Comfort Dog in the aftermath of the May 2013 tornadoes in Oklahoma.

Erler said Moses visited the metro area with Keylon’s father, the Rev. Glen Keylon, of Cairo, Neb. The Edmond pastor said the church learned that Moses had offered comfort in communities affected by such tragedies as the Sandy Hook School shootings in Newtown, Conn.; the deaths of 19 firefighters in the Yarnell Hill wildfire in Arizona; the Boston Marathon bombing and a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.

“They came and talked to our church, and we knew this was something we wanted to do,” Erler said.

The preacher said the church received Rufus in July from the Lutheran Church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog program, of which Moses is a part.

Sherry Bolosan, with Lutheran Church Charities, said up until the recent ceremony, Rufus had been a comfort dog in training. She said he became an official comfort dog when she placed his comfort dog vest on him and gave his leash to Erler and his Edmond congregation.

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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To learn more

For more information about the St. Mark Lutheran Church Comfort Dog ministry, call 340-0192.

Also, visit Rufus Comfort Dog’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/#!/RufusComfortDog.

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