EUGENE, Ore. - During her lifetime of service, Tikva the crisis response dog has helped people across the nation.
"Dogs can really help comfort people in times of tragedy," said her owner, Cindy Ehlers, "They take us back to a place and a time in our lives when we felt safe, and comforted, and nurtured."
The 14-year-old Keeshond recently passed away, leaving behind a legacy of compassion and love.
Tikva was named for the Hebrew word meaning "hope". It's a title she lived up to through her actions.
As a crisis response dog, Tikva was trained to provide comfort in a time of tragedy.
One of Tikva's first experiences helping others came when she was just a year old. Tikva and Ehlers traveled to Ground Zero just days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Centers.
"After 9-11, Tikva did follow up visits. One of them to an EMT with the New York City Fire Department. He still said it changed his life. That was the only time he smiled... when he saw her," said Ehlers.
From the 9-11 terror attacks to Hurricane Katrina, Tikva's journey to support those in need spanned the nation. Ehlers said they also spent quite some time reaching out to members in the Eugene/Springfield community.
They assisted the local Red Cross chapter in responding to house fires and visited patients at the hospital.
"There was something about them. She could tell that they were going through something difficult," said Ehlers.
Tikva was the first in our community to receive the Hero Dog Award from the American Red Cross.