By Kara Apel, Editor of The Leader

While we’ve all known for a while that dogs are man and woman’s best friend, therapy dogs are being used more and more in different industries to help the humans around them, and many leaders in the funeral profession are right on trend.

From visiting residents at nursing homes to helping college students cope with anxiety about their final exams, animals are proving to be a resource to help relieve stress. Even the “TODAY Show” has shined a light on the importance of therapy dogs recently by showcasing their “puppy with a purpose” on TV and social media.

The Krause family with their grief therapy dog, Bennie, who is also a family member.

Grief therapy dogs are specifically trained to help people who are dealing with the trauma of losing a loved one and are available upon request for a funeral service, visitation, or memorial.

The Milwaukee location of Krause Funeral Homes has offered grieving family members and friends the comfort of a therapy dog for years, beginning with Oliver and now Bennie, both trained Portuguese Water Dogs.

Oliver was Krause Funeral Homes’ first on-staff therapy dog. He was a beloved member of the Krause family and belonged to President Mark Krause; his wife, Joan; and their daughter, Nicole. In addition to soothing grieving families, Oliver also enjoyed spreading warmth during visits to local schools and nursing homes. He died at the age of 10 in 2011.

The family’s current grief therapy dog, Bennie, has big brown eyes and a joyful spirit. Bennie was certified as a grief therapy dog through the Canine Good Citizen program after two years of specialized training.

“Because of Bennie’s presence at the funeral home, we have seen grieving children open up about their feelings, and adults become visibly less stressed. We’ve watched Bennie help people relax in situations that are difficult and overwhelming. He truly provides a calming presence when families need it most,” said Mark Krause.

Bennie helps provide comfort to families in the Milwaukee area.

But why should you consider investing in a grief therapy dog? Connecting with a trained animal like Bennie, who is conditioned to tune into emotional distress, can help those who are struggling to talk about their feelings with other people.

And what the Krause family has noticed is backed up by research. According to the National Institutes of Health, spending time with animals can lower cortisol levels and blood pressure.

Peter Moloney with his grief therapy dog, Kota.

Moloney Family Funeral Homes in New York also witnessed this special connection after introducing their grief therapy dog named Kota, the first to serve Long Island.

Kota, who is a 3-year-old Weimaraner/lab mix, is very docile and loving and loves to give kisses.

“Families tell me after Kota spends some time with them that they love him – that it was such a nice thing to have him be around them to offer comfort to them in a different way,” said co-owner Peter Moloney.

Aside from the comfort Kota provides to grieving families, Kota also has an interesting story of his own. He would have been euthanized if he had not been rescued by the Moloney family. Now that he has a second chance at life, Kota is making the most of it by helping the community members around him.

If your firm decides to invest in a grief therapy dog, make sure to showcase the animal in your marketing strategy and consider creating a presence for the dog on your website and social media pages.

Want to learn more about therapy dogs? Check out the links below for information:

This is the first part of a series about grief therapy dogs. In the coming weeks, we’ll hear from an expert on how to train grief therapy dogs. Stay tuned!

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