The healing power of dogs is certainly not a new concept; thousands already benefit from therapy and service canines, and any dog owner will tell you that the fastest cure for a bad day in the office is coming home to the four-legged friend who is always pleased to see you.
It doesn’t come as much surprise, then, that latest branch of dog therapy is making strides to help those experiencing what is often one of the most sad and painful days of their lives – the funeral of a loved one.
Ballard-Durand Funeral Home is one such company which keeps a dog on site (owner Matthew Fiorillo’s Goldendoodle Lulu) to help ease the tense and sorrowful atmosphere. Sandy Del Duca, whose father had sadly passed, spoke of the effect Lulu had on her experience of his service:
“She seemed to know just what I needed. A funeral is a funeral, it’s not a great thing. But that dog gave the service a family atmosphere and made it more of a celebration.”
Mark Krause of Krause Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Milwaukee agrees. He believes the atmosphere fundamentally changes whenever a dog greets mourners, helping to lighten the mood and, as Del Duca said, make the day seem more of a celebration of someone’s life rather than a sad ending.
The Krause’s family Portuguese Water Dog, Oliver, had a similarly profound effect on those who had lost a loved one.
In one case, a young boy whose young sister had passed away was so lost in his grief that he had stopped talking altogether. And yet, upon meeting Oliver, the boy felt comfortable enough to open up about how he was feeling – he felt the dog could understand his pain, which helped dissipate his grief and bring him into acceptance about what had happened.
When Oliver the dog passed away himself in 2011, his funeral was attended by 150 people, as well as their own dogs – a true testament to what a significant role he had played in the funerals of their friends and family over the years.
1 ABC News