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Tag: comfort

Michigan funeral home holds service for dog who comforted thousands of the grieving


Hollie, a golden retriever who for 16 years comforted mourners at a Kalamazoo funeral home, was remembered yesterday with a ceremony in her honor.

Betzler Life Story Funeral Home held an open house for the therapy dog they believe to have been the first used in Michigan by a funeral home.

While more funeral homes have begun having therapy dogs on the premises, Betzler’s started their program at a time it was mostly unheard of.

Scott Betzler, Hollie’s owner, got the idea while he served on the board of directors of the Kalamazoo Humane Society. That organization offered a pet visitation program for nursing homes at the time, and Betzler decided to try to incorporate it at the funeral home.

“It was very different at the time to have a dog in a funeral home,” said Patrick Bauschke, a funeral director at Betzler. “But Hollie made it the most natural fit. She’s worked thousands of funerals and visitations and helped countless people.”

“Mention the Betzler name and chances are people will remember Hollie,” he added. “She happily greeted people at the door, mingled throughout visitations and services, and offered a calming and comforting influence on those who needed her most.”

Bauschke said Hollie had a soothing effect on visitors — “an unmatched sense of knowing just who needed her and when.”

holly2MLive reported that setting aside some time for people to remember and honor Hollie was an obvious idea.

“So many people have adored her, it is a time for people to come in and visit,” Funeral Director Joe Buysse said. “We have so many people who say, ‘I remember when I was here for Grandma or Uncle Charlie and she was here. She was a big comfort to me when I was a kid. Now I’m grown up.’ It is amazing how she has touched so many people.”

Hollie completed temperance training through the Kalamazoo Humane Society and was the first official funeral home therapy dog in the Greater Kalamazoo and Paw Paw areas.

Her work was featured in articles by the International Cemetery Cremation and Funeral Association, the Michigan Funeral Directors Association and the Kalamazoo Gazette.

She was often taken on visits to local senior communities, and visited elementary schools for book-reading sessions with children.

You can read more about Hollie’s life here.

With Hollie’s passing, the funeral home says her role will be taken over by Ellie, a 3-year-old English retriever who has been working alongside her.

(Photos: Betzler Life Story Funeral Home)

A lap that’s always there for your lap dog

lap dogA Reddit user has come up with a pretty brilliant idea for dogs who get a little anxious when their human isn’t home.

The man, who posts under the name Unoiseau, constructed an artificial lap for his lap dog.

Normally, we’d say he should have gotten a patent before he shared it with the world, but it looks like a project that anyone with an extra pair of jeans could easily accomplish at home.

The inventor didn’t specify what he stuffed the jeans with, but it seems some dirty clothes that smell like you would do the trick.

Your dog might not be convinced it’s really you, but because it looks and smells like you — or at least part of you — he might find it a comforting and reassuring place to curl up.

Unoiseau stuffed the jeans, and crossed the legs to create a pocket for his dog to lay in. The dog isn’t “totally convinced with the makeshift lap I made for him,” the dog owner said, and he looks a little confused when he’s sitting in the lap and looking at his owner across the room at the same time.

But Unoiseau is hoping the artificial lap will keep his dog from experiencing separation anxiety when he’s not there.

The Reddit post has attracted more than 15,000 upvotes and made it to front page of the site.

(Photo: Posted to Reddit by Unoiseau)

Severely injured dog gets some comfort


One abused dog comforted another this week at a veterinary clinic in South Carolina, and this saintly image of their meeting is one for the scrapbook.

Sammie, on the table, is a three to four-month old puppy who has dragged behind a car, shot in the head and spray painted.

He was dropped off at a shelter by a woman who claimed he was a stray and said she had brought him there “because he wouldn’t die,” according to Rescue Dogs Rock NYC.

While that’s still a possibility, Sammie, a boxer mix, is being treated for a bullet hole in his head and two seriously injured legs, one of which he may end up losing. He underwent three hours of surgery on Tuesday.

Earlier this week, another dog at the clinic, a border collie named Simon, found his way into the room where Sammie was, and offered what — to human eyes — appears to be some comfort.

Simon also was a victim of some abuse and neglect, and is currently being treated for mange.

sammyBoth were rescued from shelters in South Carolina, and ended up at the same vet in Columbia, thanks to the efforts of Rescue Dogs Rock NYC.

You can read more about Sammie’s story on the organization’s Facebook page.

Contributions to help pay for Sammie’s continuing medical care can be made through a YouCaring page set up by Rescue Dogs Rock.

Rescue Dogs Rock is a not for profit animal rescue founded in 2015 whose mission is to raise awareness of the plight of homeless animals — both those in shelters and those who are strays.

(Photos: Rescue Dogs Rock NYC)

It looked like they needed each other


A dog at a Canadian pet motel and foster care center broke out of her kennel and positioned herself outside the kennel of two whimpering foster puppies spending their first night there.

The center’s employees had gone home for the night, but when one checked surveillance cameras they saw that a dog named Maggie had somehow gotten out of her kennel and was sitting in front of the kennels the puppies were in.

maggieAlex Aldred said his mother, Sandy, returned to the kennel to put Maggie back in her own kennel.

When Maggie indicated she wanted to be with the pups, Sandy let her into that kennel.

“Sandy stayed in there for about 15 minutes and then said, ‘Well it looks like they need each other,’ and then let Maggie stay the night in their kennel,” Alex Aldred, who also works at Barker’s Pet Motel and Grooming in St. Albert, explained.

“When we came back in the morning they were all still cuddled up together,” he added.

Turns out Maggie had recently had a litter of her own, and all the pups she gave birth to had been adopted.

“We think that’s why she got so attached to the puppies,” Aldred told ABC News. “We’ve never really seen it before, where a dog sneaks out to some puppies and is so excited to see them.”

Deanna Thompson, who works at the Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society (AARCS), the organization that rescued the puppies, said she was not surprised by what Maggie did.

“It’s innate in a lot of female dogs, especially if they’ve had a litter in the past. It’s just in their nature. We’ve seen it in a lot of dogs, even with male dogs, when they hear other puppies crying they want to console them and make sure they’re feeling safe.”

(Photos: ABC News)

Funeral homes find dogs comfort mourners


Funeral directors are increasingly turning to dogs to help comfort mourners, the Associated Press reports.

Therapy dogs, they’re finding, not only help soothe grieving friends and family members, but they can serve to lighten up the overly somber atmosphere that is the norm in many a funeral home.

When a dog joins a group of mourners, “the atmosphere changes,” said Mark Krause, owner and president of Krause Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Milwaukee. “In a funeral home, people are typically on edge, uncomfortable. But everyone lights up, everyone has to greet the dog.”

Krause bought Oliver, a Portuguese water dog, in 2001. His wife had Oliver trained to be a therapy dog at schools, nursing homes, hospitals.

“Then my wife said, ‘Why can’t he do this in the funeral home?’ and in the 10-plus years we had him, he probably touched a couple thousand families,” Krause said. Oliver seemed to “sense grief and who needed him.”

Krause remembers one 7-year-old boy who 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.'”

“I don’t suppose Oliver understood, but he looked at the boy as if he did,” Krause added.

When Oliver died in 2011 — about 150 people attended his funeral — the Krauses bought another Portuguese water dog, Benny.

While no statistics are kept on dogs in funeral homes, Jessica Koth, spokeswoman for the National Funeral Directors Association, said, “We hear from members that more and more of them are bringing animals into funeral homes … whether it’s a certified therapy dog or just an extremely well-behaved family pet.”

At the Ballard-Durand funeral home in White Plains, N.Y., Sandy Del Duca was mourning the death of her father when Lulu, a goldendoodle, came down the stairs and greeted her.

“That dog looked into my eyes and I was done,” Del Duca said. “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.”

When mourners come to the funeral home to make arrangements, owner Matthew Fiorillo asks if they’d like to meet Lulu and tells them she’s available — at no extra charge — for wakes and funerals. Almost all have accepted.

Funeral directors say dogs can lighten the awkward, tense atmosphere at a wake or funeral service, and sometimes seem to know exactly who needs their help.

Gayle Armes, owner of the Armes-Hunt funeral homes in Fairmount and Marion, Indiana, says his dog Judd, a golden retriever, serves a vital function by giving mourners “something else to focus on.”

“The ones who need it, they tend to go over to him, maybe kneel and love on him and he loves on them,” Armes said.

(Photo: Lulu, a goldendoodle who works as a therapy dog at Ballard-Durand funeral home in White Plains, N.Y.; by Jim Fitzgerald / The Associated Press)

LAX dogs provide different kind of security


From an Irish wolfhound named Finn to a Rottweiler named Maggie Mae, 29 dogs of various breeds are providing a different kind of security for travelers at Los Angeles International Airport.

The dogs have been comforting frazzled travelers for a year now, through a program called PUP, or Pets Unstressing Passengers.

finnFinn started last November, the day after a gunman opened fire at Terminal 3 and left a Transportation Security Administration officer dead, according to the Los Angeles Times

“I think after the shooting, Finn attracted attention because he represented something comforting,” owner Brian Valente said in an airport statement. “As passengers asked questions about Finn and started to pet him, I could see their bodies relax and their demeanors change.”

The one-year anniversary of the program was marked yesterday at a meeting of the L.A. Board  of Airport Commissioners.

The dogs all wear bright red vests, and mingle with passengers in post-security-screening areas. The program is aimed at reducing the anxiety of travelers by letting them pet and play with the dogs.

The dogs are registered with Therapy Dogs, a national organization that supports pets that visit places such as hospitals, nursing homes and other special needs centers.

To see more of the dogs, click here.

(Photos: Los Angeles World Airports)

Woman who took Boh from cemetery turns herself in; says she was trying to rescue him

A 36-year-old mother turned herself in Friday, but told reporters she was trying to help the German shepherd she took from a cemetery, thinking he’d been abandoned.

“I saw the dog almost get hit on the side of the road and I stopped to see if he was okay. And I picked him up thinking he didn’t have an owner. And I was trying to help. I took him to a vet to have him checked for a microchip. I was trying to help him, that’s all,” Dana Hartness told WCNC as she arrived at the Lincoln County courthouse with her lawyer.

Boh — wearing a collar, but no ID — was seen getting into a car on Feb. 28 at Forest Lawn Cemetery, which his owners live next door to. He became a social media sensation in the weeks after his disappearance as cemetery visitors posted remembrances online of how he had comforted them there.

He was found Thursday night wandering around Birkdale Village in Huntersville, about 25 miles away. Two sisters took him home from the shopping center and posted his photo on a Facebook page for lost German shepherds.

His owners, who had created their own Facebook page, Bring Boh Home, were told about the photo, checked it out, and knew immediately it was their missing dog. They picked him up Thursday night.

hartnessOn Friday, Hartness turned herself in after learning the Lincoln County sheriff’s office obtained warrants for her arrest of charges of felony larceny of a dog and possession of stolen goods.

According to the Charlotte Observer, investigators had determined that Hartness, after stopping with Boh at an animal hospital, took the dog home — contrary to her claim that he ran away when she stopped her car to let him go to the bathroom.

“We know she took the dog home,” Lt. Tim Johnson said. “She had the dog there where she lives, then he got (away) the next day.”

The Observer reported that Hartness has been convicted in the past of larceny and attempted larceny, according to court records.

(Photo: Lincoln County sheriff’s office)