It’s a Dog’s Life at Funeral Homes Across the Globe

On International Take Your Dog to Work Day we celebrate the love of dog. Read how funeral homes are introducing grief therapy dogs to provide comfort to families experiencing grief.
Dog Looking Up at Camera Comfortingly

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It is said every dog has its day and for at least one day a year that old dog’s tale rings true.

That’s thanks to a 1999 global initiative by the US-based Pet Sitters International which decreed the last Friday of June each year Take Your Dog to Work Day – this year on Friday 24 June – to put a spotlight on the untold benefits of dogs in our everyday lives.

We all know that dogs are a great morale booster at any time, but backed up by plenty of anecdotal evidence, they also provide a wonderful way to de-stress at work.

Numerous studies have found that dogs can provide social support, which leads to many psychological and physical benefits for people at any time…even in the workplace.

It would be impossible to estimate how many people working from home across the world in the past two years dialed into coronavirus lockdown Zoom meetings with a dog secretly curled up under their home study desks.

And it’s that sort of experience that is encouraging increasing numbers of funeral homes around the world to introduce grief therapy dogs as permanent members of their teams. [1]

They are after all a model employee; working for food, never complaining about working conditions, they get on well with everyone and they’re always up for a walk around the block at lunchtime to help their masters get those steps up.

Moreover, funeral homes are discovering that grief therapy dogs help their clients feel at ease and provide comfort to families feeling overwhelmed with emotions through the funeral planning and final farewells process.

They are finding the benefits are seemingly endless with stress lowering a natural consequence of the emotional bond humans and dogs invariably have.

K.M. Smith Funeral Directors Grief Therapy Dog Archie in Front of Door
Image provided courtesy of K.M. Smith Funeral Directors

And while the dogs can be any placid breed, funeral homes typically choose smaller hypoallergenic breeds, dogs with a calm disposition, as in the case of K.M.Smith Funeral Directors in Brisbane Australia where people are greeted by their friendly Labradoodle Archie.

Over the past few years, Archie has welcomed people young and old as they come to the company’s head office at Bowen Hills, their chapel or viewing lounge.

And according to CEO Laurel Shanley and Archie’s constant companion and branch manager Adrienne Ryan, their furry teammate (who doesn’t shed hair) has an innate sense of what is going on around him.

“He has a natural gift for what he does; it’s not something he was trained for,” Adrienne said.

“He waits for the front bell to go and knows exactly where to be – he knows the mood straight away and just does his thing.

“And when children come to the funerals, he is just lovely with them and knows when and how to provide the distraction they need at the time,” she said.

Another Australian funeral home with a resident grief therapy dog is Kings Funerals which serves Greater Geelong, the Bellarine Peninsula, and Surf Coast outside of Melbourne.

Kings Funerals staff also understand the comfort a trained companion pet can provide to people experiencing grief and loss.

That’s why the forward-thinking team introduced Womble. As Kings’ Comfort Dog, Womble shares his natural and intuitively caring personality with their business.

According to Beth King, General Manager, Womble helps people to remain calm and allows others to feel more comfortable expressing emotions, talking, and finding comfort from his presence.

“Research showed us that comfort dogs can help provide comfort and support to families trying to manage grief in addition to improving their overall mental and physical health,” Beth said.

“The simple act of petting a comfort dog increases serotonin and dopamine levels in our brain, which helps improve our mood by lowering stress, anxiety, and depression.

“Womble can be present to provide comfort to families experiencing grief, at funeral arrangements and the funeral itself, for those who would like that option.

“It took us two years to find the perfect fit.

“Womble was trained as a Seeing Eye Dog but didn’t meet the high eyesight standards required.

“However, his gentle nature and natural abilities, combined with his professional training, meant a Comfort Dog role was perfect for him,” she said.

OpusXenta wholeheartedly supports 2022 Take Your Dog to Work Day and we encourage everyone to use the day to better appreciate the amazing calming nature of our incredible four-legged friends.

K.M. Smith Funeral Directors Grief Therapy Dog Archie
Image provided courtesy of K.M. Smith Funeral Directors

 


 

[1] Scientific Evidence That Shows Grief Therapy Dogs Are the Best (frazerconsultants.com)

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