Last week, Clinton Funeral Service acquired a therapy dog.
Mollie, a 2-year-old King Charles Spaniel, is training for certification. That includes learning obedience commands and overcoming any fear of objects she may encounter such as hospital equipment. Her training also includes the recognition of grief and how to comfort people.
The concept may be new to some people, but therapy dogs have been around for about 60 years, says Darriel Ezell, co-owner of Clinton Funeral Service.
The idea of therapy dogs started in World War II as a way of lifting the spirits of troops and the wounded. It was Dr. Mayo of Mayo Clinic fame who saw how a visiting soldier's dog lifted spirits and actually promoted the healing process among the wounded, Ezell says.
Dogs have helped people with Alzheimer’s, cancer and people recovering from surgery. They have helped children with learning disabilities or autism. Therapy dogs have even been used in dentist offices to help patients that are afraid of the dentist chair.
"With this concept, we have brought a therapy dog into the funeral home. If there ever was a place to promote healing, this is it," says Ezell. "I know of nursing facilities and doctors offices that have therapy dogs, but I do not know of any funeral home anywhere around that has one. We are the first in our area to offer this type of care to our families. The best medicine always wags its tail."
Clinton Funeral Service also lends Mollie out for visit schools, nursing centers, and churches free of charge.