The Belvedere Funeral Home in Charlottetown is providing some extra love and support to grieving families thanks to a dog named Odie.
Owner Faye Doucette got the idea of bringing a dog into the funeral home after staying at a hotel that had a resident dog, saying she enjoyed the interaction and thought it would be a great addition.
So she asked the P.E.I. Humane Society to let her know if a dog with a gentle and caring nature was brought in.
"And they knew what I was looking for and when this little guy came in they phoned and they said, 'We think we have the perfect dog,' and they did have the perfect dog," Doucette said.
That's how she was paired with Odie, a sheltie-retriever mix.
'You can almost feel the tension go down'
The dog has been helping out at the funeral home for nearly a year and has proven a perfect fit.
"He is extremely good at identifying who needs him the most," said Doucette. "And it's amazing the comfort he brings. You can almost feel the tension go down the minute Odie comes."
Odie doesn't have any special training, Doucette said, but seems to instinctively know when people want him around.
She said clients are always asked if they like dogs or have allergies, and Odie is moved to another area if there are any issues.
But many do want Odie around, especially in the room where families first go to make arrangements after a death.
"They have to give him a little bit of inkling," Doucette said. "He'll walk by but if they pay no attention, he just keeps on going. But if they put their hand down, that's all they have to do."
Once staff put their funeral suits on, she said, Odie knows to stay in the office area.
Odie goes home with Doucette at the end of the day.
He'll be celebrating his first anniversary at the Belvedere Funeral Home in February.