Four Legged Troop Greeters Provide Smiles and Comfort to Soldiers 

For many years now soldiers traveling to and from overseas through Bangor are greeted by a line of people known as the Maine Troop Greeters.At the end of the line is a pair of short and furry greeters who are sure to bring a smile.Cheryl and Ron Lare’s therapy dogs Opie and Skylar have been greeting troops for the past year-and-a-half.Both are Shih Tzus. The couple bought Opie, Skylar was rescued.They underwent therapy training and started helping seniors in nursing homes.Then Cheryl says they found their true calling working as troop greeters.”For a minute there, they weren’t at way, they’re home, they’re in Bangor, Maine, they’re playing with therapy dogs,” Cheryl says.For returning soldier, Sgt. John Henley of South Carolina, the dogs provide comfort and remind him of home, “Dogs they actually comfort me a little bit, I have my own pets at home and my pets comfort me seeing them, comforts me a little bit more.”With the mass troop withdrawal out of Iraq that is expected to happen at the end of the year, it’s unclear what will happen to the dogs or the troop greeters.But Cheryl says no matter what happens Opie and Skylar will continue to help bring smiles in service to the community.