Man’s best friend has always had an uncanny knack for providing humans with comfort and love when they need it most.
Lulu the funeral therapy dog is no exception, and the sweet pooch’s approach to therapy has helped a ease the pain of losing a loved one for a number of mourners.
A favorite member of the staff at Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services in White Plains, New York, the 2-year-old Goldendoodle offers loving nuzzles and affection to anyone she senses in pain during funeral services.
“Like other therapy dogs found in nursing homes and hospitals, Lulu provides unconditional love and support as well as a subtle distraction from grief,” Matthew Fiorillo, Lulu's owner and president of Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation services, told InsideEdition.com.
Fiorillo got Lulu in Florida and had her specially trained as a therapy dog, before taking her with him to White Plains, where she has been providing comfort for more than a year.
Lulu fulfills the basic need that humans have for a comforting touch and presence, and her ability to sniff out pain is something Fiorillo just can’t explain.
“It’s really an unexplained phenomenon. It’s amazing to watch. She’ll come in a room and just poke her nose at them, and I know who the immediate mourners are, but she doesn’t, yet she always just comes and puts her head in their lap,” Fiorillo said.
Fiorillo said Lulu’s abilities go beyond just her presence at the funeral home. Even while off-duty in Fiorillo’s home, she has come to the aid of those in need of comfort, as she did when his sister’s husband passed away.
“My sister came over after losing her husband, and Lulu wouldn’t leave her side. It was amazing she just wouldn’t leave her, and even at my own house. She’s just a dog, but you know, it’s unbelievable that she just knows how to go to people,” Fiorillo said.
Fiorillo says the pooch, who stars in a new video by HooplaHa, even has a special trick to help children summon the courage when approaching a casket.
“She says a prayer with them. So if a child or really anyone is having trouble approaching the casket, she’ll go up with them and put her head down in between her paws,” said Fiorillo.
Lulu is available only upon request for funeral services, but Fiorillo says about 90% of mourners choose to have her join them, and the peace she brings is something Fiorillo loves to see.
“They love it. They just love having her there. When she comes into the room I see, I feel, and sense people just soften over,” said Fiorillo.