One golden retriever in an Oklahoma funeral home has been hired to fetch tissues for grieving families attending funerals of lost loved ones – and it’s melting the internet’s heart.
Benny the golden retriever is just three years old, yet he already has a very important full-time job providing emotional support for families attending funerals at Havenbrook Funeral Home in Norman, Oklahoma.
The wonderfully trained hound will fetch tissues for tearful funeral guests and also help to soothe those at their time of loss.
Benny is a fully qualified therapy dog, and a generally adorable little fella! Therapy dogs have been in use for longer than you may realise, however, in recent years the use of therapy dogs has been increasingly more popular and ‘trendy’ in the public eye.
The director of the funeral home, Deana Kelly, brought Benny with her to the Oklahoma funeral home from North Carolina when she took over as director of Havenbrook.
Ms. Kelly (pictured below) explained Benny’s roles and the decision to bring him on board in more detail in an interview with News9.
‘When people are here, it’s a confusing time, an uncomfortable time, so for him to be here just to pet and to kinda make the mood a little bit lighter and relieve a little bit of stress and anxiety from the time is good.’
‘He loves people,’ Dean continued. ‘He’s very calm and gentle, and just comes up and lets you pet him. He doesn’t jump on you or anything like that.’
Helping people in times of emotional stress and fetching kleenex aren’t the only things that delightful Benny is able to do though! He can also kneel, bow his head, and pray according to Metro.
Michelle Buller (pictured below), the office manager at Havenbrook, is a big advocate of Bennie’s work and the use of therapy animals in general.
Buller lost her sister back in the April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and recalls how a small monkey that someone had brought to the staging area for the families of the people killed in the bomb attack really helped to lighten the tragic mood:
‘I remember a lady bring a pet monkey daily to visit all of us that were all waiting on our loved ones at a specific church they had us all at […] I remember the smile it would put on people’s faces just for a minute.’
Benny even now has his own bio on the ‘Meet our staff’ section of Havenbrook Funeral Home’s website, which says:
‘Born in Mississippi, Benny, an English Cream Golden Retriever, joined the Havenbrook team in May 2019, after relocating to Norman from High Point, North Carolina, where he previously served at a funeral home.
‘He received his therapy dog certification in March 2017. In addition to bringing comfort to grieving families and friends that have lost a loved one, Benny enjoys visiting many organizations and facilities in our community to share some joy.’
Benny even has his own email address! (And it’s only because he’s such a lovely and clean looking dog that I resisted the temptation to call it flea-mail!)
I think this is a wonderful idea personally! Funerals can be such a hard time for people, and sometimes something as simple as a little furry friend to spend some time with can really help!
Also, I don’t know what dogs have to go through to become ‘certified’ therapy dogs, but I like to imagine a big hall full of dogs sat at desks silently filling out exam papers!