Updated: Tuesday, 18 Dec 2012, 7:49 PM EST
Published : Tuesday, 18 Dec 2012, 7:47 PM EST
NEWTOWN, Conn. (WTNH) -- It's something dog lovers knows. Spending time with your pooch can make you feel better.
A group of volunteers is hoping their therapy dogs will help cheer up kids and adults who are trying to cope in the wake of this tragedy.
The handlers say the response to these dogs is overwhelming. Many of them are local canines and they're serving their community in their time of need by just being them.
A smile for the Austerman family is rare these days. They came to this memorial in the center of Sandy Hook to remember a friend.
"We wanted to say good bye and pay our respects to a few of the kids that we knew," Cathy Austerman said.
Her 7-year-old Hailey played soccer with 7-year-old Grace McDonnell who died in the shooting.
But Hailey enjoyed petting Maddy's soft fur and the golden looked happy to help.
"I know what we're all going through and it was important because I know how healing our dogs are," Anne Marie Cioffi a volunteer said.
They brought several of these wagging tails down to the memorial because you can't help but smile when you see these faces.
"They know exactly what they're doing. When I put her vest on this morning, she just came alive. She knew what she was coming to do," Cioffi said.
Some of these golden retrievers live right here in Sandy Hook, but several came from out of state.
They're therapy dogs trained to be affectionate, gentle, and patient, a source of comfort, when nothing else seems to be.
"This is one of the best things, they're just innocent like the kids and they just...see, everybody can use that kind of love," Austerman said.