ENOCH, Utah (ABC4) — An emotional support golden retriever and his owner, Daniel Sievert of California, are traveling to Enoch City to comfort those suffering from the Haight family’s alleged murder-suicide as part of their nine-states trip to comfort those in need.
Cooper, the emotional support dog, and his owner were on a “bucket list trip” to comfort people who are suffering in nine states when they paused for an extra week in Washington, Utah for the holidays, according to Sievert. The trip began on Sept. 10, 2022, and was dedicated to many of his acquaintances who have lost loved ones and to the crisis in Ukraine.
The pair headed to Enoch City Thursday after hearing the news of the alleged murder-suicide where 8 people were found dead in their home. Once there, Seivert plans to bring Cooper to the police and fire stations first to comfort first responders.
Sievert began traveling with his golden retrievers to provide emotional support to victims and their communities following the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. Sievert said he felt called to join others and their service dogs in Boston after seeing their service on the news. He then traveled 7,000 miles round trip from California in a rental car with money from his local church and friends for gas on what was meant to be his only service trip.
Sievert has since undertaken 54 service trips across the nation with his three golden retrievers, two of which have passed.
While Cooper’s energetic personality caused difficulty in the training process, Sievert says “he is the most engaging, perceptive, heart-reaching dog I’ve ever had.”
As an electrical burn survivor, Sievert is on social security disability payments and is often unable to afford the trips he takes. However, he says there are many who have supported his efforts to allow them to continue.
“I call it driving on faith and fumes, ’cause many times I’ll show up in a city and I’ll have 50 dollars left in my bank account and I gotta go another 500 miles and I’m like, ‘How is this gonna happen?’ Somehow, it always happens. Somehow, we always get to our designated place,” Sievert said.
Seivert has countless stories where his dogs have helped those in need. He says it is only his mission to be there, and the pain others feel is something between them and his dogs.
“There’s something that goes on in the mechanics of the connection where when that person opens up and says ‘can I pet your dog?’ nine out of 10 times it’s because they need that moment,” Sievert said.
Once they engage with Cooper, he said “the next thing that happens is that they tell me their story.”
Sievert plans on taking Cooper to Enoch City for several days in a row to help comfort the community. He visited city hall on Friday, met a four-year-old, and states this about the experience: “I think he knew the love that he was feeling from this particular golden retriever, and he wanted to come back and get just one more hug. It was very touching.”