Weather Updates

St. John Lutheran Church unleashes canine comfort

Adeencomfort dog St. John's Lutheran Church near Burlingtmeets youngster. Comfort dogs]interact with people churches schools nursing homes hospitals events disaster-response

Adeena, the comfort dog of St. John's Lutheran Church near Burlington meets a youngster. Comfort dogs]interact with people at churches, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and events in disaster-response situations. | Submitted photo

storyidforme: 18730498
tmspicid: 6859012
fileheaderid: 3163087

Updated: November 10, 2011 5:49PM

BURLINGTON — St. John Lutheran Church, at 13N535 French Road, has a four-footed, furry parishioner that is always willing to listen to others.

“Adeena, a golden retriever, was born in January 2010. She came to our church in December of that same year,” Pastor Howard Gleason said. “She is a certified and trained service dog. When I first saw comfort dogs, I thought it would be a great ministry for our church.”

The comfort dogs program was started by Lutheran Church Charities, based in northern Illinois. The dogs interact with people at churches, schools, nursing homes, hospitals and events in disaster-response situations.

Adeena lives with her handlers, David and Shar Farran, in Hampshire. She traveled with Gleason and the Farrans July 5-10 to Joplin, Mo., to help the tornado victims.

Immanuel Lutheran Church in Joplin, which is two blocks from the disaster area, set up a cooling center in the Martin Luther School gym. Adeena greeted the people who came there.

“It was 104 degrees the first night we were there,” Gleason said. “It was too hot to take a dog to the disaster area. We would load up golf carts with food and drinks and take them to people. We would listen to their stories and pray with them.”

When Adeena wears her work vest, she must obey specific commands and take on the role of a comfort dog.

“She can’t bark, jump up on people or play with other dogs,” Gleason said. “She is not allowed to eat human food. When a little girl in Joplin wanted to feed Adeena a potato chip, Adeena would not take it.”

Adeena has participated in many local events, such as Coon Creek Country Days in Hampshire and Burlington’s annual Fall Fest.

“She visited students at Hampshire Elementary School, and we are looking for an opportunity for her to visit students at Gary D. Wright Elementary School,” Gleason said. “She came to Ella Johnson Memorial Public Library in Hampshire for the ‘Read to Rover’ program. She met with senior citizens in our fellowship hall, and she was a part of our vacation Bible school. Every week, she sits in the back of church during Sunday services. She has become a part of our family.”

Octoberfest at St. John

Gleason said that Adeena and her handlers will attend the annual St. John Lutheran Octoberfest on Saturday on the church grounds.

“There will be a 5K walk/run on that day, with registration from 7 to 7:45 a.m.,” Gleason said. “The race begins at 8 a.m. We expect 50 to 70 participants. The race will be held in the church parking lot and portions of French and Lenschow roads. There will be prizes for first place, and goody bags.”

People can enjoy a German-style dinner from 4 to 7 p.m. The menu will include pork chops, sauerkraut, potato salad, brats, red cabbage and beverages. The cost is $8 per person. There will be a children’s dinner for $2 that includes a hot dog, side dish and drink.

“Miller’s Home Town Band will perform, and there will be both a bake sale and craft sale,” Gleason said. “The proceeds go toward local ministries such as the Burlington-Hampshire Food Pantry, the comfort dog ministry, and Christian senior ministries.”

For more information, contact St. John Lutheran Church at 847-683-2338 or visit

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.