When someone passes away, all of those who knew them and cared about them will want to pay their respects by attending the funeral service. If the deceased had a beloved dog, you might want to consider whether the dog should be present too. While it can be a respectful and moving idea, there are a few things that need to be thought about.
The First Step
Talk to a funeral director to find out whether it's in fact possible to bring the deceased's dog. It might not be possible, potentially due to legislative restrictions of the funeral home's own policy.
Things to Consider
If permission is forthcoming, you still need to consider whether or not it's a practical idea.
Think about the dog's temperament. Will they be able to behave themselves and keep a calm demeanour during the proceedings?
Is there someone to supervise the dog at all times? Even the best behaved dog will need someone to keep an eye on them in these unfamiliar surroundings (and this supervision will include cleaning up any messes the dog makes).
Will there be any young children at the funeral? While dogs and kids can certainly mix very well together, such a solemn occasion may not be the most appropriate playtime.
If you believe that the dog's behaviour is suited to such an occasion, then it can be a truly touching gesture to have them at the funeral service.
When the Dog Shouldn't Attend
While the animal's presence at the funeral is a gesture of respect for the deceased (who perhaps would have found comfort in knowing that their loyal pet was at the service), remember that the dog will not really gain any emotional comfort from the proceedings. They will know that their beloved master is gone, and while animals can be highly intuitive, it's not as though the dog will be able to understand the significance of the funeral service. Having said that, what are some of the things you can do if it's decided that the dog shouldn't attend the funeral service?
If displaying photos of the deceased during the service, include one that pictures them with their dog to illustrate the beautiful bond they shared.
Arrange for a professional dog sitter for the day so that the dog is not left alone during this trying time. The dog could easily have difficulties adjusting to the loss of their owner, and all friends and family might be occupied with the funeral. This is why it's important to consider the dog's needs during the funeral.
While it can be a touching, and indeed a fitting gesture to have the dog at the funeral, it's very important to consider about whether or not it's appropriate.