Funeral Comfort Dog
Australia’s first funeral home comfort dog.
At Kings, we understand the comfort a trained companion pet can provide to people experiencing grief and loss. This is why we have introduced a special dog, Womble, to our Funeral Home.
Womble’s natural and intuitively caring personality can offer comfort to bereaving families and guests at our arrangement meeting and funeral services.
It is widely understood that the presence of a dog can alleviate emotional suffering and provide comfort and connection for people through difficult times.
If you see Womble around our office and chapel, he will be pleased to meet you!
Why was a comfort dog considered?
At Kings Funerals, we understand the comfort a trained companion pet can provide to people experiencing grief and loss. We had heard of comfort dogs being used in aged care facilities and hospitals and had also seen that these kinds of dogs were being used in Funeral homes in the USA. Research showed us that comfort dogs can help provide comfort and support to families trying to manage grief in addition to improving their overall mental and physical health. The simple act of petting a comfort dog increases serotonin and dopamine levels in our brain which helps improve our mood by lowering stress, anxiety, and depression.
What is Womble’s role as a funeral home comfort dog?
To be present to provide comfort to families experiencing grief, at funeral arrangements and the funeral itself, for those who would like that option. To remain calm and allow others to feel more comfortable to express emotions, talk, and find comfort from his presence.
What makes a comfort dog, a comfort dog? What are the traits they demonstrate, specifically in the funeral space?
Being attuned to his environment and able to read people’s emotional state; having the ability to identify and approach those looking for comfort. Quiet, not barking, no jumping up, growling. Displaying a calm disposition. Being comfortable being in a quiet space with lots of people expressing sad emotions.
How does Womble know when it’s time to work?
Womble’s work vest being on indicates it’s time to work. When it’s off, Womble is free to behave like a normal dog. On days that he is in the office but not attending a funeral, Womble will not always wear his vest but he understands to remain responsive while in this environment.
What’s Womble’s work routine?
Womble will be in the office on days he is requested by families or any shift that his carer, Jo, is working. On office days, he often greets people at the front door and has helped with receiving payments from families, sitting in arrangements, and any other activities that might involve families coming into the venue.
How is Womble received by the public?
We ask promptly if people are comfortable with Womble being around. He is often greeted with big open arms. They enjoy the pat and excitement that Womble brings and are usually delighted with having the option of him there.
How is Womble’s wellbeing cared for in the funeral and office environment?
The Kings’ venues have been doggy-proofed and all staff are aware of his movements and look out for him. Things such as closed bins, ensuring there’s nothing for him to eat that he shouldn’t, etc are taken care of and considered daily. He is free to roam around the large venue inside and in the enclosed outdoor courtyard. He has his favourite spots to sleep, rest, and visit and easy access to food and water. He gets taken for walks by staff.
How has Womble integrated with the staff at Kings Funerals?
Womble has proved not only to be a meaningful option for client families but has also benefited the Kings team. Dealing with some difficult days, surrounded by grief and bereavement, Womble can be a wonderful distraction and brings comfort to them as well. He gets lots of rubs, often has someone playing/throwing a toy for him, and getting taken for walks which also encourages a breath of fresh air. He has some routines like sharing Briohny’s carrots at her desk at morning tea.
What has the response been like for families?
People love him. We’ve had requested for him to be in attendance on many occasions. It’s really wonderful watching him work the crowd. You can see people’s faces light up. They want to pat and cuddle him. It opens up a whole conversation too; what’s his name, how old is he, do you have a dog? It’s like a brief distraction from the emotions they are feeling and another sense of connection and comfort that funerals can bring to the grieving process. It’s especially rewarding to see him support children.