'Tails To Teach' helps children face loss, feel compassion

Laura Carlson of East Greenwich is the founder and director of Tails to Teach, a program that utilizes dogs to teach compassion and empathy to Providence school children.

After the tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last December, Laura and her dog Grace went to Newtown to try to help the grieving children by bringing some joy to their day.

"They (dogs) just have a way of reaching you like nothing else can - with no words," said Carlson. "Just that paw on your knee or that wet nose on your face. It just breaks down all those barriers."

Carlson said that during her first trip to Newtown with Grace, children who haven't smiled since the massacre were finally able to find a glimmer of joy when they got to play with Grace. Carlson hasn't forgotten that feeling - calling it "bittersweet." She and Grace continue to travel to Newtown to keep bringing joy to those who are trying to heal.

"A couple of the dads told me they are just tired," Carlson says. "They want life to go back to normal but I don't think they think it ever will."

For more information go tot he Tails to Teach web site.