Jogger and her dog bring unexpected comfort to grieving 6-year-old at her father's funeral
via Emily Bierman / Facebook

Dogs can be a tremendous help to people experiencing grief. They provide unconditional love, always listen, and are so attuned to feelings they're known to comfort people when they're feeling sad.

Six-year-old Raelynn Nast must have known this when she reached out to a stranger and her dog during one of the hardest moments of her young life.

Emily Beineman of Arkansas was jogging with her dog, Blue, recently when she heard a young voice call to her from the steps of a funeral home. "May I pet your puppy?" Raelynn asked. Emily said she could as long as she asked her parents first.


However, Raelynn said that her parents weren't able to give her permission at that moment. "Oh my parents aren't out here," Emily recounted in a Facebook post, "my mom's inside and my daddy died... we are at his funeral."

Raelynn's father, Davey, had recently died of colon cancer at the age of 41. Before Emily could say a word, Blue walked up to Raelynn and the young girl wrapped her arms around the dog and wouldn't let go.

The young girl asked Emily if she would like to "come in and meet my dad."

Emily said that she would as long as it was ok that she was in her jogging attire. "Keep in mind I had just got done running 3 miles," she wrote.

"Everyone was kind of looking around like, 'Where did she come from?' And she came in right next to Rae like they'd known each other for so long. There was that connection there," Raelynn's mother, Lacey, told CBS.

Raelynn's mother wasn't shocked that Raelynn invited a stranger to the visitation because she's a "daddy's girl" who "always wanted to introduce her dad to everybody."

Raelynn introduced Emily to her friends and family at the funeral home and then asked if she could stay a few more minutes so she could pet Blue. Raelynn's aunt took the opportunity to walk up to Emily and whisper in her ear.

"I think God led you and Blue over here today for a reason," she said. "Blue's love and gentleness that she has showed her has touched our hearts."

Jogger with dog offers comfort to grieving child during father's funeral www.youtube.com

Emily believes Blue knew the young girl was experiencing tremendous grief. "I've always referred to Blue as my 'gentle giant' because I've always felt that she could sense when someone is sad/upset/etc. and has this overwhelming calmness about her that is indescribable," she wrote.

"This little girl will probably never realize how special today was for me but it was exactly what I needed," Emily added. "I'm a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. And I truly believe we were meant to meet this little girl."

When Raelynn was asked how she bonded with Emily so quickly she responded, "She helped me feel better."

Raelynn may have lost a father, but she now has a new friend. She and Emily met up again in late April and have promised to "stay friends forever."

True

Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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This article originally appeared on 03.12.15


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