Dog comforts grieving at funeral home

Dave Stewart
Published on February 4, 2016

Faye Doucette, who owns the Belvedere Funeral Home, adopted Odie, a now-five-year-old sheltie/golden retriever, last year to serve as a comfort dog for the grieving. Odie spends his off-time living with Doucette.

©THE GUARDIAN/Heather Taweel

A sheltie/golden retriever is bringing comfort to the grieving in Charlottetown.

The Belvedere Funeral Home adopted Odie one year ago from the P.E.I. Humane Society.

Funeral home owner Faye Doucette noticed the effect that a dog living in a Quebec hotel she was staying in had on people and started looking for one that would be a good fit for a funeral home.

"I said 'what a good idea for the funeral home','' Doucette said. "I put my name in at the humane society and started looking at websites.''

Two years went by before the humane society called with the perfect dog. Odie has been on the job for about a year.

Doucette said Odie hasn't had any training, so he's not officially considered a therapy dog. She likes to call her friend a comfort dog.

Odie spends most of his time sitting quietly in an office in the funeral home where loved ones make the arrangements.

"He seems to know intuitively who needs him the most. He never intrudes, he never makes a sound, he's always quiet,'' Doucette said. "I heard him bark once in a year, and the people love him.''

Odie has become a popular topic on social media, too.

Patricia Monaghan thinks having a comfort dog is a great idea.

"This pooch was a great comfort when we lost my parents last year,'' Monaghan said on Facebook. "I think this is the best idea ever. He is amazing. Very soothing for young and old alike.''

Jeanie Francis writes that it's "an awesome idea for younger kids who may not really understand what's going on''.

Debbie Darlene said she saw first-hand how Odie can provide comfort.

"While attending a family funeral this week, Odie sure did lift the spirits of a very special little boy who's missing his grampie. Good work, Odie,'' Darlene writes.

Doucette stresses anyone who isn't comfortable around dogs need not worry. The dog can be kept away from people who have allergies, for example, or people who simply don't like the animals. And if no one pays attention to him or he senses he isn't needed, Odie quietly walks out of the room.

"I was a little nervous doing it for the first time, but you can just feel the tension in a room lifting when he walks in.''