Many funeral directors are choosing to implement pet therapy programs in funeral homes in Allenwood, PA and the rest of the country. In some cases, grief-therapy dogs even attend funerals. But what is pet therapy? And how do these animals, like dogs and cats, help people cope with loss and grief? Keep reading to learn more about this new funeral trend that is helpful and almost always very adorable.
Pet therapy programs were first initiated in the 1980s and involved volunteers bringing their pets to schools, hospitals and care homes for interaction with children and patients. There are pet therapy programs all around the world now, but it’s been only recent that funeral directors have begun using pet therapy in their funeral homes to help patrons deal with grief and loss. Grief therapy dogs first started popping up in the United States in the last few years.
These dogs are usually owned by the funeral director and are brought to funerals and memorial services when requested by the bereaved. Pet therapy has been used in schools, hospitals, care homes and universities all around the world. Pet therapy, often referred to as animal assisted therapy or AAT, is when a trained animal interacts with a human with a specific mood or cognitive goal in mind. The animals, most often dogs, cats, lambs, and Shetland ponies, are thoroughly trained and are usually accompanied by a handler.
These therapy animals are chosen for their positions based on friendly and calm personalities as well as comfort interacting with strangers. There are even famous therapy pets, such as Norbert, an American therapy dog. There are also new businesses and volunteer programs in which services will bring dogs to funerals when requested. A grief therapy dog’s main job is to be a calming presence at the funeral. They are especially helpful in calming and distracting children that may not have ever been to a funeral before or may be afraid of the proceedings. Grief therapy dogs can also support the bereaved through hugs, snuggles and even calming walks when things get hard.
Grief therapy pets, like dogs, are only allowed to attend funerals when specifically requested. There are always signs posted when a dog attends a service to warn guests that might have allergies or might be afraid of dogs. If you are considering having a grief pet at a funeral, think about the guests. If there are many attendees that would be distressed by a dog, it’s not an appropriate choice. However, if many guests would be helped by the dog, it is a worthwhile investment.
Are you interested in learning more about pet therapy or about your options for Allenwood, PA funeral homes? Dale Ranck Cremation & Funeral Care is here to help! While we might not offer pet therapy, we do offer a range of funeral home services that can make your planning easier. Please stop by and visit us or give us a call to learn more about what we can do for you.