Meet Haze, the funeral home grief therapy dog

Posted at 3:21 PM, Dec 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-14 16:21:52-05
Whether empty or full, A visitation room at a funeral home is quiet, still, and usually full of sadness. Loess Hills funeral home is bringing in a new hire to help through the rough time. And who knows better about ruff, than Haze.

Just 12 weeks, he's the runt of his litter. The Bernese Mountain Dog weighs 21 pounds, but  at full size will get to about 85 to 110 pounds.

The idea came to Haze's owner, Loess Hills funeral directorScott Erickson after he attended a conference. He also compares it to seeing therapy dogs at hospice care facilities.  

"Bring that into a funeral home where people are are grieving to help make it a better time for them, especially for sometimes kids who are struggling," he said.

Erickson says Haze will be the first certified grief therapy dog in Iowa. He's still got about a year or training. Frist puppy school, then obidence, then therapy dog training, then grief therapy testing with Compasionate Paws, a grief therapy dog oganization.

"Time in and out of a {training} classroom, being in schools, nursing homes, just around large groups of people," Erickson said.

For now it's getting in the routine with Scott's wife Ashley. Their toddler Vivian helps with training too. Haze got introduced to a visitation last week and did well. Most of all they say it's a lot of work, for a much worthwhile, comfort.

"We have a lot of families that don't really have family and sometimes they just need somebody. Whether it just be us, a friend, or in this case a dog," Ashley Erickson said.