CHICAGO (CBS) — A few of the local comfort dogs sent to Newtown, Connecticut to aid in recovery from the Sandy Hook tragedy are on their way home today.

Lutheran Church Charities president Tim Hetzner was there on that first day when Sandy Hook students went back to the classroom.

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“It’s been very emotional,” he described. “It’s a very difficult time for them, particularly the students that were returning to a new location for their Sandy Hook school.”

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Hetzner says the comfort dogs and handlers started early, arriving in time for teachers to spend time with the dogs — before students arrived to visit with them before classes and during the day.

“The dogs become a safety place, and they show unconditional love and their great listeners,” he says. “As they pet the dog, then they’re more receptive to talk about what it is that they’re feeling.”

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Hetzner says the school asked half of the K-9 teams to say a few more days; others will return to their homes and jobs in the Chicago area.