WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Service dogs have long been used in health care settings such as hospitals, nursing homes and universities. Now, a White Plains funeral home has found a new therapeutic use for man’s best friend.
Ballard-Durand Funeral and Cremation Services, 2 Maple Ave., has added Lulu, a certified therapy dog, to its Westchester County funeral homes.
“She’s a priceless gift for our staff and the families we serve. We’re partners,” said Lulu’s owner, Matthew Fiorillo, CEO of Ballard-Durand Funeral Homes, in a statement. “She’s wonderful and extremely curious. “She’s allowed to wander anywhere in the funeral home; we have little jars of treats in several areas to engage her.”
Fiorillo became Lulu’s official handler after the pup completed a yearlong training period.
Affectionately called the firm’s “comfort companion,” Lulu's presence is designed to provide families with unconditional love and support as well as a subtle distraction from their grief.
Despite her natural curiosities, Lulu stays in the offices and is only introduced upon the family’s request. Otherwise, Lulu can often be found welcoming guests in the home’s main hallway.
Ballard-Durand Funeral and Cremation Services is the only firm in Westchester County to have a “comfort dog” on staff. Outside of her duties, Lulu is a cheerful family dog, who loves going for walks and playing in the yard.
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