A trend is beginning to emerge among funeral homes across the country. Therapy dogs are being introduced into funeral homes to help with grief support. Therapy dogs were first introduced in 1976 by a register nurse named Elaine Smith. Today they are used by hospitals, nursing homes, schools, correctional facilities, and now – funeral homes.
It’s no surprise really, therapy dogs have been known to help change people’s moods by offering them comfort and companionship. The real surprise is why it has taken this long to introduce them into funeral homes.
Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult times for a family to go through. By having a therapy dog at your firm, you are able to offer another service that can help a family get through a tough time. After the loss of a loved one, many people are anything but cheerful. By having a therapy dog to offer comfort and support; it can help the family through the planning process.
In a recent ABC News report, Mark Krause a funeral director in Milwaukee discussed how he once witnessed, a boy about 7 years old had lost his 3-year-old sister and had stopped talking, even to his parents.
“The minute the dog came in, the boy started talking to him about his sister,” Krause said. “This little boy tells the dog, ‘I don’t know why everyone’s so upset, my sister said she’s fine where she is.”
This is just one of countless examples people have about how a dog has helped them. These dogs are trained to know when someone needs to be comforted. For years, therapy dogs have been used in grief support groups because of their ability to help calm people and allow them to open up.
Everyone has been in a social situation at some point where it becomes a bit awkward or you run out of things to say. That’s usually when a dog that’s nearby becomes the topic of conversation and changes the mood.
Benefits of Therapy Dogs
Below are a few of the physical and mental benefits therapy dogs have been known to help with:
Diminishes overall physical pain
Petting a dog helps with relaxation
An important thing to keep in mind if you’re thinking about bringing a therapy dog into your funeral home is that they should be certified and not just a staff member’s family dog.
Shari Wallace is a trainer and handler for Judd, a grief therapy dog that works in Indiana advises.
“Therapy dogs need basic obedience training,” she says. “They should pass the Canine Good Citizenship test through AKC, as well as therapy dog training, then be registered and certified.
Check out LuLu the therapy dog in action!
Get A Certified Therapy Dog
Below are some useful links if you’re interested in bringing a therapy dog into your funeral home.