Hi, I’m Millie. I’m the newest member of the team at Piasecki Funeral Home and I am a therapy dog-in-training. As you can imagine, a therapy dog is much more than a “resident pet.” Becoming a loving, caring therapy dog means I have to have lots of training and learn to remain calm in all kinds of different situations. Thankfully, everyone here at the funeral home really likes me, and I really like them. We are all excited for me to be able to meet and comfort families.
Here are a few things on my doggy-to-do checklist that I have to learn before I become a certified therapy dog:
1. Touching & Hugging – I have to get used to being touched and sometimes hugged by people I don’t know. I have to remain calm and learn to love the affection.
2. Being Approached by Strangers – I have to learn that, for a therapy dog, there really is no such thing as a “stranger,” and I have to welcome guests the same way the rest of the team at Piasecki Funeral Home welcomes guests…with love and kindness.
3. Being Around Walkers & Wheelchairs – Sometimes guests come into Piasecki Funeral Home and they need special equipment to help them get around. I can’t be distracted by their special equipment. My job is to pay attention to the person that’s using the equipment and not do things like bark at a wheelchair or (and this is TOUGH) go for those tennis balls on the bottom of the walkers.
4. Stay Focused Around Food – This is another tough one. When families choose to have food in the family lounge, I have to remember that the food is for them and NOT me. I can’t ask for food, or take any offered to me, unless my daddy says it’s ok.
5. Noise – Sometimes our funeral home gets really full with visitors. With people talking, children laughing and playing, and sometimes music in the background, it can be a lot to take in for someone with sensitive ears. I have to get used to all different kinds of noise and remember to give my attention to our guests.
6. Gentle Treat Eating – Sometimes daddy says it’s ok to give me treats…even when I don’t ask! (I’m not complaining). Gently taking a treat from someone’s hand is a skill that I can get used to. That’s what I call fun training!
I’m off to a good start and I’ve already been invited to a few services with families who know that I’m not perfect yet, but that I’m trying real hard. I’m looking forward to meeting everyone and, if you’re at the funeral home, remember to ask for me… Millie!