Meet 'Bentley' our Comfort Dog
Don Finlayson, Funeral Director at Lakeland Funeral & Cremation Centre, has expanded his staff team to include Bentley, a three year old Wheaton Terrier Poodle mix, bringing an enhanced sense of comfort and compassion to grieving families. The benefits of a comfort dog is becoming more and more recognized in a number of settings – including nursing care residences, child therapy groups, in fact wherever stress and anxiety runs high. Being comforted by a loving animal is known to provide both physical and mental benefits, and often brings a smile, a sense of relief, and a little joy despite the loss that a grieving person is experiencing.
Lakeland staff started talking about the benefits of a comfort dog, discussing what kind of dog would best suit their environment and the families they serve, how to manage the day to day routines, and where the dog would live when not at Lakeland. Don Finlayson, and his family were keen to be the forever home for a comfort dog, and Don took the lead on the search for the “perfect dog”.
Don walked down the road to the Kawartha Lakes Humane Society/Shelter (Lakeland Funeral Centre is located almost directly behind the Humane Society, at McLaughlin & Moose Rd.) to mention their desire in having a comfort dog. He asked that the KLHS keep the funeral home in mind should the right kind of dog came into their care. And, a couple weeks later Lakeland got the call – a rather shaggy “whoodle” (wheaton terrier poodle mix) had been given up by his previous owner who was unable to manage her multiple pets. At just one year old, still full of puppyhood fun, but also gentle, loving and undeniably cute, Bentley seemed perfect, and capable, of becoming a wonderful comfort dog.
For the first few weeks Bentley’s role was primarily behind the scenes at Lakeland. Bentley, along with his handlers, Don and Lynn from Lakeland, were in “behaviour lessons” to ensure that Bentley understands his important role within the business. “He will be trained to be more than just a cuddly pup”, states Don, “He’s got a real purpose. He is learning, as we are, how to develop him into an integral part of our caring team and an emotional benefit to those families in need”.
“When Bentley came in to the Humane society he was in rough shape, but still a lovable guy. He was just a pup and his previous owner just misunderstood him. Lakeland Funeral Centre took him into their care as foster to adopt, and they got him groomed and he looks wonderful. Thank you so much again for taking him on and making him your comfort dog!! We are sure he will do wonderful at the funeral home!” said Courtney Bryans, Shelter Manager.
“Dogs have a special way of providing comfort to people who are stressed and dealing with grief. They also have the ability to connect with people of all ages, in a unique way that can have a calming effect. Dogs can provide warmth and relief from the intense grief feelings that one is carrying during an emotion-filled time surrounding the death of someone you love”, states Jill Sadler, of Hospice, “I think it is wonderful that Lakeland Funeral Home is providing this added comfort to your families during one of their most difficult times.”
“In addition to the family support provided, I expect Bentley will help our employees’ wellbeing, as our workplace can sometimes be a difficult and emotional environment for staff as well,” states Mary McGee, CEO. “Taking Bentley out for a walk-about is a welcomed task; a great reason to take a short break, breathe some fresh air and be mindful of the small joys within each day.”
Finlayson said their pup is also making the funeral home more accessible to the community. Neighbours, suppliers and families are welcome to drop by to meet Bentley and say hello. And that all helps to reduce the “fear and anxiety” associated with bereavement services.