Grief Therapy Dogs
Dogs can have an amazing effect on people. They can ease anxiety with a simple loving look or by allowing you to touch their head, nape or back. Assisting people with stress reduction is a gift provided by dogs.
The former owners, Larry & Sue have been a long-time dog loving family. Many times, throughout the years, their dogs have given peace and added harmony to their home and life. With this in mind and after researching the use of dogs with Veterans that suffer with PTSD, this made them consider the possibility of training a therapy dog to work in the funeral home. The families we serve are suffering from distress and could possibly benefit from a little dog love.
Larry and Sue discussed this idea with a family we served that are breeders of Labrador Retrievers. They were intrigued by the idea and enthusiastically discussed the different personalities of each dog; not every dog is meant to work in this environment. They would be available to the families in the visitation parlors or chapel. All families have the option to allow our therapy dog to visit with them. Some cultures are not comfortable with the dogs and it is our responsibility to keep them apart from any negative responses.
After making a plan, they waited patiently for a suitable puppy. Once a litter was available, the breeder watched the personalities of all the puppies and chose a couple of special puppies for them. Larry & Sue visited the farm to meet them all and left with two beautiful chocolate lab puppies, one girl and one boy, to become our funeral home’s new four-legged employees.
Hope and Peace were soon to be Virginia's first trained Grief Therapy Dogs. Larry & Sue selected a certified trainer, Off Leash K9, in central Virginia. They gave several instructions on training the puppies, such as how to feed and give simple commands. They also gave tips on "desensitizing" the puppies from distractions; while they fed them, they pulled their tails, pinched them (lovingly), and showed emotions that they might be exposed to “on the job."
Once they were old enough, both puppies were sent off to "boot camp" for 24/7 training. Larry and Sue were emailed pictures and updates daily and were excited the day they finally came home! They were so little and cute when they would "sit sit" on command.
Hope and Peace are positive additions to our funeral home staff. They break the tension of family situations in the arrangement conference and share their love with everyone around the table. Several families have specifically requested their presence at visitations and services. They don’t both work on the same days; their behavior is best when you have their full attention.
Spring of 2022, the funeral home introduced their newest addition, Grace to the Grief Therapy Dog program. She completed an 8 week program with the K9 & Company Retreat and was awarded the RVA Packleader Bootcamp Dog Training Program on August 17, 2022. Grace is a standard poodle and can be found at the funeral home on most weekdays, learning from her fellow four-legged friends.
This service of the Grief Therapy Dogs, in addition to all the other unique services that we offer, allows our firm to stand out from the rest. We get to connect with families in a different way.
"I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.
For me they are the role model for being alive." – Gilda Radner
Morrissett Funeral & Cremation Service