Walk in to Ziemer Funeral Home and you may be greeted by two fluffy and friendly Newfoundland mix puppies. The dogs, sister Aree and brother Milo, are new therapy dogs that will be trained to assist families and children navigating the painful time of losing a loved one.
“A dog in itself is very innate about emotions,” says Jennifer Ziemer, operations manager for Ziemer Funeral Home. “It’s confusing when there is a loss in the family, and we want to have somebody who can just be there, not say anything, not do anything, not fix anything, sit there, and be with them.”
The dogs, who both are about 6 months old, have entered training with Doggie Do Right in Fort Branch, Indiana, and will be certified by next April. Once officially certified as therapy dogs, families and individuals can utilize Aree’s and Milo’s services during prearrangement meetings, visitations, funerals, and graveside services.
Ziemer says she hopes the dogs will be able to help people outside of the funeral home as well, including visits to area nonprofits and organizations. In its 90 years, Ziemer Funeral Home has worked with many local organizations, like Gilda’s Club Evansville, United Way of Southwestern Indiana, and the Linda E. White Hospice House, and sees the therapy dogs as a perfect fit in its mission to support the community.
“They’re funny, they’re fun, and they’re sensitive,” says Ziemer. “Just seeing my staff with them — you don’t always get to smiling and laughing here and encouraging families to celebrate, so it’s nice to have a little bit of cuteness come in.”