It seems like every week we are hearing about a new job that a dog is performing. I always say that we are just at the tip of the iceberg in our awareness of how canines and humans can work together. We are just on the brink of discovering the vast amount of talent and capabilities that dogs have to enhance our lives.
I recently had the pleasure of discovering funeral dogs and meeting Lulu and her handler, Matthew Fiorillo, President/CEO Ballard-Durand Funeral Homes. Lulu is one of Matthew’s star employees at the Ballard-Durand Funeral Home (facebook.com/BallardDurandFuneral) in White Plains, New York. She works tirelessly beside Matthew and his other staff members to provide comfort and support to families and individuals who have lost a loved one AND to the staff who work in this highly stressful environment.
Matthew shared with me how much Lulu’s calming presence means to him and to so many of the families he serves. Lulu is available upon request by the grieving family to be present during throughout their time at the funeral home and even at the graveside. Lulu also makes house calls to follow-up with families after the services. Matthew says, “People just know and love Lulu.” He said, “they especially love it when she performs her command to say a prayer with them.”
Lulu lives with Matthew and his family and she gets breaks from her intense job throughout the week just to be a dog and play. He also takes Lulu out into the community as a therapy dog where she visits children at local schools and participates in other community events.
Funeral dogs are a new form of working, pet therapy dogs. Although there are not many of them at the moment, their talents are beginning to be realized and there are now working funeral dogs in several states throughout the country. I asked Matthew if he would recommend to his colleagues that they add a funeral dog to their staff and he quickly responded, “Absolutely!”
For more information about Lulu and Matthew Fiorillo tune in to Working Like Dogs on Pet Life Radio Episode 1