Funeral home enlists puppy to join 'grief support team' and comfort families

Posted at 9:01 AM, Feb 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-10 09:01:31-05

A North Carolina funeral home is adding an adorable new member to its grief support team -- Mochi, an 8-week-old Bernese mountain dog.

In a post shared on Facebook, Macon Funeral Home introduced Mochi as a dog "who loves people and loves to sleep."

Mochi is currently training at Macon Funeral Home in Franklin, North Carolina, to offer unique emotional support to grieving people, said Mochi’s owner, Tori McKay.

"The Bernese Mountain Dog is a very loyal, affectionate and gentle animal, and has always been my choice for a potential grief therapy dog," McKay, who also works at Macon Funeral Home as the office administrator, wrote in a blog on the funeral home's website. "They have a history of being excellent therapy and support dogs, which comes from their kind disposition and laid-back personalities."

McKay said she has dreamed of having a grief therapy dog at the funeral home for a decade to bring any element of comfort to funeral visitations. After celebrating her 30th birthday, she decided to follow through with it.

"I wanted to make this decade of my life more about others than about myself. I really enjoy helping people," she said. "I want to start focusing on my community."

So far, the response has been positive with customers requesting time with Mochi, according to McKay. But, since everyone isn't a "dog person," Mochi will only be present upon request and won't be pushed on clients, she told "Good Morning America."

“But everyone that comes in has requested that she sit with them," McKay said. "She brings peace into the room and you can see how she makes people relax so that they can open up and feel more at home."

McKay said she plans to begin official obedience training with Mochi in Asheville, North Carolina. After the pup's first birthday, Mochi will undergo professional therapy dog training to become certified by the Alliance of Therapy Dogs.

“[Mochi] will have to pass three tests in order to become a licensed therapy dog," McKay told “GMA.”

Even though Mochi will serve an important role within the Macon Funeral Home community, McKay emphasized that Mochi will still live a normal life filled with love, play and rest.

“I think if Mochi only helps one person in her life, then I will still be so proud of her,” said McKay.