Dog helps grieving families at funeral home - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dog helps grieving families at funeral home

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Funeral homes are a place that nobody looks forward to. But the stiff atmosphere and the odd hours wouldn't keep one new employee away from Mitchell Family Funeral Home in Marshalltown. After all, he's been recruited all the way from Florida with a special mission in mind.

"I want this to be more of an environment like coming to Grandma's house rather than a funeral home," said Marty Mitchell, funeral director.

So there was only one guy for the job. He goes by Gabe, short for the angel Gabriel. With his crisp white paws, big brown eyes, he makes the rounds as the grief therapy dog at the Marshalltown funeral home.

"He fit right in immediately," said Mitchell.

The faith-based institution says the spirituality doesn't stop with this dog's name. They say he's actually something of a leader in their services.

"He's started quite a few funerals before where the music will end and he goes in and gives a prayer," said Mitchell.

Staff says he's one of 3 grief therapy dogs in the state but the only one they know of anywhere that can bend over in prayer,

Here's the part about Gabe that his handlers say is proof that he's here to make a difference. He knows people so well he knows who to look for.

"He has a very instinct and a draw to mothers that have lost children and he'll seek them out," said Mitchell. "He knows that they are there. And he'll know that they're there and he'll open up the arrangement room door and he comes in and he pushes himself between their arm."

Quite a list of accomplishments for a dog so young he's still considered a puppy.

"We have learned a few things," said Mitchell. "You don't leave food unattended."

A fair trade for what they say is a bond, a comfort no human employee could ever offer.

"Maybe his mission is, is to be where he's at right now and to do the job that he is meant to do," said Mitchell.

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