Oct 07, 2015
Most people might not expect to see a dog in a funeral home, but there really couldn’t be a better environment for man’s best friend. Humans have gained comfort and peace from canines for thousands of years. The healing power of therapy dogs has been widely documented. A study conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia found that a few minutes of petting a dog can result in an increase in “feel good” hormones such as serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin. This proves that therapy dogs can offer both emotional and physical comfort to those suffering a loss.
Funeral professionals understand more than most how sometimes a small gesture can mean more than a thousand words to someone who has just suffered as loss. Thus, many directors have adopted grief therapy dogs for their funeral homes because they recognize how interactions with dogs can provide solace to the bereaved. Therapy dogs are carefully selected because of their calm and gentle temperament. They are also specifically trained when to approach funeral home visitors and appropriate ways to display affection.
Lately, we have seen more and more funeral homes welcoming therapy dogs into their funeral home. It’s wonderful to see so many directors seeking ways to provide extra comfort to the families who come through their funeral home’s doors.
6 Adorable Funeral Home Therapy Dogs
1. Magic from DeJohn Funeral Homes & Crematory
Magic joined the DeJohn Funeral Home & Crematory in South Euclid, OH in 2008 after being saved from a situation where he was used for breeding purposes. He is a nine-year-old hypoallergenic Portuguese Water Dog who has received extensive training in grief dog therapy. As a member of Therapy Dogs International, Magic provides emotional support to those visiting the funeral home. He also visits hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and children’s facilities to provide comfort wherever he is needed. How inspiring that a dog who was once rescued from an unfit environment now provides peace to those who are suffering. The funeral home is currently in the process of training of Portie puppy named Coco so that she may carry on the tradition after Magic retires.
“We have a bereavement program and he’s really become a big part of it,” said funeral home owner, Ross DeJohn, Jr. “He makes people smile even when they don’t want to. He’s like a rock star at the funeral home. People love him. People ask about him all the time.”
2. Dempsey from E.F. Boyd & Son Funeral Home
Last April, the directors at E.F. Boyd & Son Funeral Home in Warrensville, OH welcomed Dempsey into their funeral home. Dempsey is a Bernese Mountain Dog certified in grief therapy. Dempsey received his certification in Iowa with Debra Fry of Compassionate Paws Grief Therapy. Prior to coming to OH, Dempsey received temperament training, completed a biosensor program and was micro chipped.
From the E.F. Boyd & Son’s Facebook page: “Animal- assisted therapy has many health benefits including the reduction of anxiety, social support from companionship, facilitate interaction with other humans, and increased social behavior including smiling and laughing. Grief therapy dogs offer this improved state of mind to those who are suffering from the loss of a loved one and can help aide the transition of learning to cope with the loss.”
3. Lulu from Ballard Durand Funeral Home
Lulu joined the staff of Ballard Durand Funeral Home in White Plains, NY earlier this year. She is a hypoallergenic Golden Doodle who has been specially certified as a grief therapy dog. The directors were committed to finding the right dog for their firm and did a great deal of research. In fact, Lulu received nearly a year of training before coming to work at Ballard Durand Funeral Home.
“Lulu helps on so many levels,” says Matthew J. Fiorillo, President and CEO of Ballard-Durand Funeral Services.” One being the basic human need to touch– simply stroking her head creates a sense of calm for those in need. She has an uncanny knack for being able to spot people who need her. She gravitates to them. I can’t explain it, but it’s there.”
4. Lily from Traunero Funeral Home
Lily is the resident therapy dog at Traunero Funeral Home in Tiffin, OH. She has been a member of the funeral home staff for many years, providing comfort and quiet companionship to all who enter the funeral home. Many people will stop by the funeral home just to say hi to Lily. In addition to offering her calm presence to funeral home guests, Lily also makes regular visits to the Stein Hospice Grief Camp for children.
A recent letter the funeral home received from a family: “To the Traunero’s Dog, Lily…. Thank you for being there for me, Lily. You saw that I needed help and you were there for me. You gave me great comfort and peace by letting me hold you and pet you. You stole my heart. I think my husband sent you to me”.
5. Luna from Seaver Brown Funeral Home
Luna is a Newfoundland who came to the Seaver Brown Funeral Home in Marion, VA last June when she was just 14 weeks old. The directors there have been busy helping this adorable pup to become therapy dog certified. Luna graduated from AKC Star Puppy Class last July and the funeral home is working with a trainer to help Luna prepare for her job as at grief therapy dog.
“When a family comes into the funeral home we ask them all kinds of questions, they have to make decisions, but when a puppy comes up to you, you don’t have to make decisions. The love that an animal can give, it’s very comforting,” said funeral home owner Malcolm Brown.
6. Rocky from Bartolomeo & Perotto Funeral Home
Congratulations are in order for the directors at Bartolomeo & Perotto Funeral Home in Rochester, NY who just adopted a new puppy named Rocky. Rocky is a Golden Retriever who joined the funeral home earlier this month. Rocky will be available to families on a request-basis while he earns his therapy dog certification. Although the directors expect Rocky’s training will take about a year, everyone at the funeral home is working together to help.
From the Bartolomeo & Perotto Facebook page: “We strive to provide the best services to our community. Grief dogs are amazing creatures. We hope he provides comfort to many for a long time!”
We look forward to seeing more updates and photos of these adorable grief therapy dogs. Certainly, there are many considerations directors must taken into account when deciding if a grief therapy dog is right for their firm. If you would like to learn more about this subject, please click here to read our podcast interview with Compassionate Paws Grief Therapy Founder, Debra Fry.
About The Author
Jess Farren (Fowler)
Jess Farren (Fowler) is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD’s company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at Jess@myASD.com