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Beaver Dam funeral home employs therapy dog to help families through difficult times

Posted at 7:09 PM, Oct 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-23 20:10:40-04

Tillie, the 8-month-old Golden-Doodle, works at Cornerstone Funeral & Cremation Services as a therapy dog.

Co-owners Jessica and Todd Michael say Tillie brings a sense of calm and comfort to those going through a difficult time. Not to mention, she's a medium to small size dog, weighing in at only 20 pounds, doesn't shed and loves to be around people.

"It's different, it's out of the box," said Jessica. "I think it's thinking more about the whole person."  

The Michaels have run their Beaver Dam funeral business for more than 11 years. Jessica says Tillie has been with them since April of this year and it's been a wonderful experience. Not too long ago, Tillie came to the aid of a teen with anxiety who was having a tough time dealing with a loss. 

 "She sat there for the remainder of the office with him and the family has come back to us several times just saying how much value that was for him," said Jessica.

The idea for a therapy dog came when Jessica saw how a dog changed attitudes in an airport terminal. She says many people were irritated, flights were canceled; it was just a negative energy. 

"People started smiling and talking to each other and it was really interesting as an outsider to just sit back and see that, almost wave happen as that dog went through," she said.

She admits there are some less than favorable things about having a dog in the workplace: having to remember to take him outside for potty breaks, avoiding patrons who may not like dogs, when the office gets very busy and overwhelming remembering there's a dog that needs attention. But, she says overall it's a great experience. 

"They'll reach out actually and call looking for her," she said. "Many times a quick transaction, they'd come in and drop something off. They would go. Now with Tillie here we find people want to hang out a little bit longer."

The ultimate goal, says Jessica, is to have two dogs one day. While Tillie will be the official therapy dog, there could be another dog to keep her company.