By Nila McGinnis
The last thing one would expect while walking up to a funeral home to prepare arrangements for a loved one would be a fluffy, friendly, furry dog bounding down the hallway to greet you. The vivacious two-year-old Goldendoodle, Yeti, isn’t at the funeral home because her owners couldn’t leave her home for the day- she’s working. As a certified grief therapy dog, Yeti is trained to comfort those dealing with difficult circumstances after the loss of a loved one.
Jamie Keim-Thurman, Yeti’s owner and the funeral director of Kemper-Millard-Keim Family Funeral Chapels in Troy and Hawk Point, where Yeti works, brought Yeti home as a puppy to train the new addition to the family herself. After undergoing more than a year of training, Yeti completed all of the steps necessary to start her work in the funeral home.
Keim-Thurman was involved in 4-H as a child, and she believes that the skills she learned there allowed her to feel more comfortable with the training required to certify Yeti. After more than a year of training, Yeti has passed classes through Therapy Dog International and the American Kennel Club which have allowed her to be comfortable working with the elderly, children, people with adaptive tools such as wheelchairs and walkers, and strangers in general.
Calm, friendly, intuitive, and compassionate are not necessarily adjectives that one would readily use to describe a young dog, but Yeti fits all of those markers which proudly make her an effective part of the grief support team at Kemper-Millard-Keim.
Keim-Thurman says that Yeti absolutely loves helping people in need. “While I’m meeting with a family, I often find Yeti snuggled right between a client’s legs, offering her unique form of comfort and compassion right when the client needs it most, during some of the hardest conversations of their lives,” she remarked.
Keim-Thurman isactively working on involving Yeti in more community events in addition to attending her client’s funeral services and arrangements. Yeti plans to make the rounds at local schools this fall, introducing children to the funeral services industry and the support a grief dog can provide in times of need.
In the mean time, Yeti will continue to shine a ray of light in an industry which so often faces grief and depression.