funeral home dog
Stacy Robertson
Stacy Robertson
February 12, 2020 ·  4 min read

Funeral home adopts Bernese mountain dog to comfort grieving families

If you have a dog, you should count yourself lucky to have such a loyal companion.

Dogs are wonderful pets that offer surprising and fantastic benefits, which include longer lifespan, cutting down on stress, anxiety, and lots more. What’s more? Dogs even can empathize with people who are grieving. In a study published in the Animal Cognition journal, researchers found a human crying has an emotional pull on dogs. The study showed that dogs are more apt to approach a person who is crying rather than one who humming or talking — their ability to empathize stems from genuine concern and not from curiosity.

To provide comfort for grieving families, a funeral home in North Carolina has taken advantage of these benefits. 

Macon Funeral Home have announced their new furry employee – a 10-week-old Bernese Mountain Dog, Mochi. Yes, you heard that right! The announcement was made by Mochi’s mum, Tori McKay, who also doubles as the funeral home’s office administrator.

“Say hello to Mochi, the newest member of Macon Funeral Home. She’s an eight-week-old Bernese Mountain Dog who loves people and loves to sleep. We hope she will become a member of our grief support team and make therapy visits to those in need with her mom, Tori McKay,” the post read [1].

McKay described Bernese Mountain Dogs as a caring, loyal, affectionate, and gentle breed and believes these qualities will make Mochi a perfect therapy dog. In a post on their website, McKay explained that the idea of having a grief therapy dog is a dream she has had for years. After turning 30, she decided to turn the dream to reality. She spoke with her husband and other staff at Macon Funeral about taking on a grief-support dog. Thankfully, all were on board with this suggestion.

Mochi is expected to receive formal training at Asheville once she is between the age of six months and one year, but until then, she would be nurtured and taught to socialize by her mom. But even without any formal training, Mochi is already making an impact.

“So far, everyone has been so supportive, and Mochi has already made a difference in families’ lives this week. I have had people reach out for grief therapy, and the reception on Facebook has been incredible,” McKay said  [2].

Because Bernese Mountain Dogs have a short life span – six to eight years – McKay wants Mochi’s life to be purposeful – to have a meaning and to touch lives significantly.

In returning to the funeral home, I decided I want to make an impact on our community more than ever, and I think this is an opportune time for me to do that. Bernese Mountain Dogs do not have long life expectancies — six to eight years is typical — and I want her life to hold as much purpose as possible,” said McKay [3].

More on Bernese Mountain Dogs

The Bernese Mountain Dogs is one of four varieties of Swiss mountain dogs that were initially bred to work as a draft animal, herder, and watchdog on alpine farms.

This breed originated from Bern, Switzerland, in the early 1900s and first arrived in the United States in 1926. In 1937, the American Kennel Club officially recognized this breed

Bernese Mountain Dogs are known for their calm and good-natured temperament. They learn quickly and are eager to please. With proper training beginning between the age of 4-6 months, Bernese Dogs will do wonderfully well with strangers and make an excellent addition to any household.

Therapy dogs

Owing to numerous studies that have highlighted the role dogs play in reducing stress, blood pressure, and anxiety, more people are keying into dog therapy.

In this program, specific breeds of dogs are trained to provide affection and love to people who are going through mental health conditions or facing fatal health illnesses. But not all breeds can be therapy dogs. Before a dog can be considered to be one, it must meet the criteria listed below:

  • It must be able to handle potentially uncomfortable encounters like when people grab their tails, jerky movements, or people touching their nails.
  • It must be obedient and capable of interacting with people.
  • It must not be growly or aggressive with children or strangers.
  • It must respond to basic instructions like sitting down, walking without a leash, responding to their name, and leaving a particular object.
  • It should allow strangers to pet it.
  1. Funeral home adopts therapy puppy to comfort grieving families. Megaphone. Mike Pygas. Accessed 11-02-2020.
  2. Funeral home adopts Bernese mountain dog named Mochi to comfort grieving families. Fox. Kelly Taylor Hayes. Accessed 11-02-2020.
  3. Therapy Puppy Provides Comfort To Grieving Families At Funeral Home. CesarsWay. Admin. Accessed 11-02-2020.
  4. Can Dogs Help with Grief?. Wag. Admin. Accessed 11-02-2020.
  5. Therapy Dogs. Wide Open Pets. TF Oren. Accessed 11-02-2020.