A dog at a funeral? Conventional thought would say it’s disrespectful. But a funeral home in Austin, Texas, has discovered how comforting a therapy dog can be to grieving family and friends.
Kermit, a border collie, is a certified therapy dog working his magic at Affordable Burial and Cremation in Austin.
Kermit is the first certified therapy dog in Texas active in the funeral industry. The owner of the service is Melissa Unfred, also the dog’s owner.
She told a reporter that getting Kermit certified was a long journey, but well worth it. He “takes the tension out of the room” and helps people who have lost someone close.
Kermit’s path to certification included passing his Canine Good Citizenship test and completing a series of classes at the Austin Dog Alliance.
The Right Personality
According to Unfred, Kermit has perfect personality for therapy work. Calling it “chill,” she said, “He gravitates to those who seem to need him.”
When a family comes into the funeral home to make arrangements, Kermit is in the room. Time and again, Unfred reports, people reach out automatically to pet him and become less tense.
At funerals, he sits by the register book. He’s in the background, but there for comfort when people need it. The results have been “ very beneficial for those in mourning.”
Unfred asks families before including Kermit, and many are happy to have him there for his ability to bring solace. In his spare time, the dog visits hospitals and hospice centers.
The Importance of Training
The dog has been so helpful that other funeral homes are considering adding a dog for comfort during the funeral process. But not just any dog can do this job.
One thing that sets Kermit apart is his training. Unfred emphasizes, “I think the important thing funeral homes need to realize is they need to go through the proper process in order to call their animal a therapy animal.”
Though many family dogs provide reassurance and comfort during stressful times, they may not be suitable for therapy work. According to experts, the best therapy dogs are born with several essential characteristics.
They should be naturally social and easy to control. Dogs that fit easily into the job enjoy being touched and are comfortable around various types and loudness of sounds. The dog should find it easy to make eye contact and handle strange settings and objects comfortably.
Therapy Dog Registration
Another important step in the process is to officially register a therapy dog. USA Service Dog Registration makes it simple, just three steps. And it’s free.
In addition, the site offers a variety of helpful resources for therapy dog owners. Find out where you can take them and how they differ from service dogs.
The store at USA Service Dog Registration offers a variety of useful products for therapy dogs, service dogs and emotional support animals. These include ID tags, vests, collars and leashes.
When it’s time to register your therapy dog, use the simple 3-step process at USA Service Animal Registration.
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