Hello Friends!

I’m happy to report I completed my certification in Animal-Assisted Therapy, Activities and Learning through the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work; Institute for Human-Animal Connection on June 1st! I thoroughly enjoyed and learned a great deal in this program which involved three online classes with our final capstone projects presented on campus in Denver. I had amazing classmates with diverse backgrounds from Singapore, Nova Scotia, Toronto, California, Washington and Colorado who all provided great insights into the human-animal bond. I highly recommend this program if you are at all interested in expanding your knowledge of Animal Assisted work.

My capstone project revolved around grief therapy dogs in the funeral home. The bond dogs have forged with humans is nothing short of amazing. Dogs help us connect in a time when people feel more socially isolated. Many pet owners feel their dog helps cheer them up and brings joy to their day. It’s difficult to take a walk in a neighborhood without coming across a canine companion. This awareness of the positive effects dogs have on people has transferred to the funeral industry. Many dogs have joined the staff at funeral homes across the country. They bring a temporary diversion and a calm comfort to those confronting the loss of a loved one. When done with best practices involving the best interests of the human AND dog, these grief therapy dogs can help relieve some of the discomfort, sadness, and fearful feelings of walking into a funeral home.

While doing my research, I met an amazing grief therapy dog team in Marion, Indiana. Shari Wallace and Judd of the Armes-Hunt Funeral Home in Marion, IN not only provide a calm, comforting presence during funerals, but also visit nursing homes, hospitals, hospice, and colleges. I was blessed to shadow them for a day where I observed first-hand the power of a well-planned, certified grief therapy dog program in action. Check out this video of another working girl named Lulu in Pennsylvania!

Who thinks we need a certified grief therapy dog team in Bloomington? I do!

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