Recently, I had the unfortunate experience of witnessing the passing of a dear friend. The funeral was well organised and meaningfully put together. However, I couldn’t help notice that throughout the time I was there at the wake, his 2 children, aged 10 and 12, looked sad and depressed; indeed they were not their usual jovial self. This mood unfortunately rubbed of on my friend’s dear wife who in addition to having to cope with the loss her beloved hubby, had to be the source of strength to hold her now fragile family together.
Feeling the need to do something, I began wondering if I should bring one of my dogs to the wake, if nothing else, to cheer the children up. They are after all, very well trained, great around people and have never failed to bring smiles to kids. I followed my gut feelings and with the permission of their mother, brought Rufus, my champion obedience dog along with me. I was glad I did because Rufus was an instant hit with the two grieving kids the moment he arrived. Seeing them interacting care-freely with my dog that day, pains of loss momentary forgotten, even brought tears to my eyes, and hence the motivation to share this story.
Needless to say, their mother’s mood was very much lifted as well on seeing her kids happy again and this whole experience felt almost surreal to me, a person often described as pragmatic rather than emotional.
My Findings on Funeral Home Therapy Dogs
On returning home, I began researching if dogs could play an active role in helping us humans cope with the ultimate loss – death and perpetual separation. That was when I realised that funeral home therapy dogs are already gaining in popularity in countries such as the USA. They are known for their ability to help the bereaved family cope better with grief, softening their sorrow and even bringing about smiles just by being themselves and hanging around the funeral home. And this is not surprising given that dogs have been successfully used in pet assisted therapy (PAT) the world over to help people cope with various conditions such as:
Funeral Home Therapy Dog Getting Rave Reviews
In White Plains, New York, a Funeral Home Therapy Dog, Lulu, has been getting glowing reviews regularly from funeral goers. Here’s CBS news report of this story.
Are Singapore Funeral Directors Interested in Offering this Service?
Excited now, I contacted Casper, an unassuming young man from www.singaporefuneralservices.net, a Singapore funeral services company, who helped my deceased friend’s spouse arranged that wonderful funeral. I asked if there was a role, for funeral home grief therapy dogs in our Singaporean society and if such a service will be helpful to his clients. He found the idea refreshing, and like me, feels that dogs can definitely play a role in comforting mourners. However he has his reservations about the readiness and willingness of Singaporean funeral goers in embracing the idea of having a dog at the funeral parlour or wake. When asked if other funeral directors here are offering this service, his reply was that he didn’t think they were.
My Free Dog Training Offer to Funeral Directors
While Casper is probably right about the likely lack of demand for the services of grief therapy dogs in the funeral home setting, I personally hate to see us Singaporeans deprived of an effective means to lessen our grief in such times of needs. As such, I’m offering, for a limited time, to personally coach (for free), any funeral directory who intends to train a grief therapy dog. Included in this free service are:
- Tips on selecting the right puppy
- Guidance on raising a service dog including proper socialisation
- Obedience training including teaching the dog proper manners around people and other animals
However, the funeral director must meet the following criteria to be eligible for this free service:
- The puppy to be trained must be around 8 weeks old
- The funeral director himself must personally learn to train the dog and not delegate this responsibility to a staff
- The puppy must be cared for in the funeral director’s home throughout its lifetime and be treated as part of his family e.g. a family pet.
My reasons for setting these conditions are simple. In order to love and offer comfort to mourners, the dog itself, must first be well loved. After all, a well balanced dog, temperament wise, can only be nurtured through proper love and care. More importantly, I do not wish to be a party to those seeking this service only because of the potential for monetary rewards and without any care and concern for the well being of the dogs trained for grief therapy work.
How to Enquire?
To check out this dog training service, simply call our hotline +65 68714245 or use the contact form on this page to email us.