Dog at western P.E.I. funeral home brings comfort during times of loss

A six-year-old goldendoodle named Chloe is providing comfort for those going through tough times at Ferguson Funeral Home in O'Leary, P.E.I.

'It's not such a sombre place anymore,' says goldendoodle's owner

Chloe greets everyone at the door of Ferguson Funeral Home. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

When Carol and David Ferguson first got their goldendoodle Chloe, they never expected her to take on much of a role at their business. 

The couple runs Ferguson Funeral Homes in O'Leary and Tyne Valley. They originally started to bring Chloe to work because they didn't want to leave the golden-retriever-poodle puppy home alone. 

Now, Chloe has become an integral part of the business. 

"Early on, we realized that Chloe had her own calling of comforting people during their lowest times in life, when they've lost a loved one, and Chloe has been very, very attentive to those people from the time she's been a puppy," David said.  

When Chloe senses that someone is in need of a little comfort, she will instinctively go to them and put a paw on them.

She goes up to people that seem to be in need of love and comfort- Carol Ferguson

"One day Chloe and I arrived at work and we came in through the back door and David was interviewing a family and there was a gentleman standing outside the door and he was obviously upset," Carol said. 

"Chloe went right to him and sat down and put her paw out on his leg. And he just said, 'Oh my goodness, if this wouldn't dry a person's tears up, nothing would.'"

Now, Chloe is present at almost all the services held at the home.

"It can be a place of great sadness and lots of tragedy in some instances, and Chloe just provides that level of comfort and she goes up to people that seem to be in need of love and comfort," Carol said.

"You'll see people come through the door and they're on the verge of tears, you know, because they're meeting with their funeral director. But Chloe goes to the door and greets them and they get right down on their knees.

Chloe will instinctively go to people who are in need of comforting. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

"Adults, seniors, doesn't matter. And she just dries their tears up and makes them at least feel better. No question," she said. 

Children, who are often apprehensive about being in a funeral home, have especially taken to Chloe, playing with her when they come in for a service. 

"And so they realized that the funeral home was actually a friendly place to be," David said. 

"You could play with a puppy and it wasn't a bad spot. And it's made it easier for families to come and spend time here."

Local celebrity 

Everyone in the community knows Chloe, and she's quickly become the most popular member of the staff, Carol said. 

"When David took over the funeral home from his dad, people would come in and they'd ask where Doug was, his dad. And then all of a sudden it was like, 'Where's Chloe?'" she said. 

People often drop by the funeral home to say hello to Chloe even if they aren't attending a service, she added.

Carol and David Ferguson say Chloe is helping to change the perception of the funeral home in the community. (Travis Kingdon/CBC)

"I was surprised that everybody wanted her here and that she's become such a part of the community and everybody knows her," she said. 

"You'll hear kids say to their mom, 'Mom, that's Chloe!' So, you know, if they have good memories like that from a funeral home, I think that [is] special."  

That just may be the biggest contribution that Chloe makes to the funeral home, David said — changing perceptions of the role a funeral home plays in a community. 

"I think years ago, the funeral home was a bad place to go to," he said.

"We've tried to soften the appearance of inside the funeral home. Chloe has made it really come forward in leaps and bounds."

Carol agrees. 

"It's not such a sombre place anymore."

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