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Sandy Hook teacher: My Goldendoodle reminds me there is good in the world

Sunday - 3/10/2013, 12:24am  ET

Laura_with_zeus_story512.jpg
Laura Feinstein, a teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School, hugs her new Goldendoodle Zeus. The puppy was born the day of the Sandy Hook school shooting, and the breeder decided to donate the puppies to those affected by the tragedy. (Courtesy of Laura Feinstein)
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'A fantastic act of kindness from a very generous soul'

Laura Feinstein talks about the gift of Goldendoodles after Sandy Hook

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Healing after the Newtown shooting is a process

Kate Ryan, WTOP

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Editor's Note: Laura Feinstein is a teacher from Sandy Hook Elementary School and sister-in-law of WTOP anchor Debbie Feinstein.

Laura Feinstein, special to wtop.com

NEWTOWN, Conn. - On Dec. 14, 2012, evil bullied its way into the corridors of Sandy Hook Elementary School, forever changing who I am.

An entire school community and town was devastated by the horrific events that took place in a matter of minutes on that Friday morning in December. It takes every ounce of strength not to dwell on the evil that visited that day, but instead to focus on the outpouring of love, support and kindness that has come in from all over the world in response to this event. One act of kindness in particular worked its way into my heart.

On Jan. 4 I received an email that had been forwarded to the school, saying that a breeder in Texas had a litter of nine Goldendoodles that were born on Dec. 14, and she wanted to give the pups to Sandy Hook staff, families, victims' families, first responders or anyone in the community affected by the tragedy who might find some comfort in taking on a pup.

I knew this would be the perfect therapy for my family and me, so I responded. After speaking with the breeder I just knew this was going to be a new beginning for my family. Photos of these newborn Doodles were sent via email, and we picked out and named our pup. My family chose a male pup and named him Zeus (Protector and Ruler of the Heavens).

Weekly pictures and video were sent, and we received narratives on his development. Those of us on staff who had agreed to take pups were often found huddled during our lunch period sharing photos, a temporary distraction from the struggles we faced adjusting to our new location and our new lives. Whenever I was having a bad moment, I found myself going to the camera roll on my iPhone to sneak a peek at Zeus, who was the positive association I used to overshadow negative thoughts.

He grew cuter by the weeks, and we were all counting the days until arrival. On Feb. 16, the pups were flown into a local airport and arrived at 9 weeks of age. The reception in the hangar was emotionally overwhelming. It was simply beautiful to see smiling faces and tears of joy.

I have to say when Zeus was handed to me I smiled like I hadn't smiled in more than two months. His puppy breath and warm little body all snuggled up to you puts you in instant relaxation mode.

See Zeus play with Fernando, Laura Feinstein's black Labrador, below:

Of course, a new pup is a big responsibility as well, since they do require lots of patience and a great deal of attention. My college-age daughter has taken on the responsibility of raising Zeus. I am enjoying this new common thread Zeus has woven into our relationship. We are constantly sharing texts, photos and Zeus stories.

Zeus has been with our family for just over two weeks now and has been the little bundle of love that reminds me that there is good in the world. We will never forget what happened on Dec. 14, but a very special person, who had a team of others to support her efforts, did a kind and generous thing for a community of people who were in tremendous pain. I will be forever grateful for that.

We at Sandy Hook school continue to move forward and draw great strength from each other and from those who have reached out to us.

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