Therapy Dog Comforts Grieving At White Plains Funeral Home [Video]
What a wonderful idea – Ballard-Durand Funeral Home adds a furry member to their staff whose job it is to comfort the grieving.
Two years ago this summer I lost my maternal aunt to Alzheimer disease and sadly, within a month, my younger brother to a heart attack. My takeaway? Death is a fickle beast that loves to catch you off-guard and turn your world upside down. My salvation? Coming home to pets who quite frankly didn’t give a damn about my grief as long as dinner was on. In fact, it was surprisingly comforting to sit down beside a warm body that was completely indifferent to my plight and was not struggling to find the right words or avoid the wrong ones. Life for them was still good and I found peace in being part of a world that wasn’t swallowed up with grief.
Hey, two years on and they still have no interest in my personal life or my deepest thoughts (did I say I have cats or was that self-evident?) but their contentment in life does continue to influence the mood in my little household and that, as Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing.
So it was no surprise to me that a White Plains, New York funeral home decided to bring in a “comfort companion” to minister to the grieving. Lulu is a certified therapy dog who joined the Ballard-Durand Funeral Home this year. The adorably lanky Labradoodle has the run of the place and while she happily welcomes visitors at the front door, she respectfully waits for her cue from fellow workers before engaging with the mourners. Per her pet parent and funeral home CEO, Lulu’s presence is intended to provide families with unconditional love and support as well as a subtle distraction from their grief.
His inspiration came from sitting in an airport during a lengthy flight delay and listening to the complaints of fellow disgruntled passengers. When a woman walked by with her small dog, the mood immediately changed as the focus shifted away from the issue at hand.
I believe it! Who could resist stroking a curly mop of pooch head or doling out treats (from some of the strategically placed goodie jars) over making small talk and eating finger sandwiches? Am I not right?
But Lulu doesn’t lead the pack when it comes to sharing the love during the grieving process. Other funeral homes have also adopted the warm and fuzzy approach when comforting those left behind including one in Milwaukee whose Portuguese Water Dog Oliver became a minor celebrity, appearing in commercials for the home and drawing a crowd when out in public. When Ollie passed away at the ripe old age of ten, it was estimated he had comforted more than a thousand families during his tenure. In fact the local paper published his obituary, the funeral home held his service and close to 150 locals attended, bringing their dogs or ashes of their pets.
Cheers to the legacies left by comfort companions, and here’s to more funeral homes employing therapy dogs. We’ve added a video below of a newscast that caught up with Lulu – let us know what you think.
[Source: White Plains Daily Voice]