COON RAPIDS, Minn. — Whether it's the purr of a cat or a gentle nudge from a dog, animals can have healing properties on people.
Knowing this, the general manager of Gearhart Funeral Home in Coon Rapids thought, why not bring a dog into one of the saddest places on earth?
When you're at a funeral home, you might find yourself with a heavy heart. However, at least at Gearhart, general manager Ryan Scharfencamp can guarantee one of his employees will make you crack a smile.
"When you look at hospitals or nursing homes, all these other organizations bring therapy dogs in, why not do it at a funeral home?" Scharfencamp said.
So in October of 2018, he brought in Jackie. Jackie is a white, medium-sized pup with pointy ears. At 17 months old, she's still a pup--a therapy dog in training.
Jackie can be serious. Jackie can be goofy. Even though she's still young, she's got her business-side and her play-side under control.
"Sit, stay, come, wait down, walk and uh-uh are her seven official terms," Scharfencamp said. For someone who had his mind set on having a golden retriever as the therapy dog, Scharfencamp said he's glad he and his daughter made an impromptu trip to the Coon Rapids Humane Society back in October.
"We were not planning on bringing a dog home that weekend but everything happens for a reason," Scharfencamp said. "The minute we got her out of the kennel, I could tell that she was the dog."
Scharfencamp said his daughter Elsie was actually the one who made a deep connection with Jackie. The connection they shared at the kennel was still evident between the two on Friday.
Elsie was gentle with Jackie and Jackie likewise. The two weren't shy about wrestling on the soft carpets of the funeral home. The kind of tenderness that Jackie shows Elsie isn't exclusive. Jackie loves everyone.
"She has a natural ability to connect with people," Scharfencamp said."[Patrons] will call her 'come here, come here Jackie' and they'll give her love and attention."
At Gearhart, they say they aim to treat you with dignity during a difficult time. With Jackie at Gearhart, they can also promise you unconditional love.
Jackie is finishing her last training class next week. After that, she will be officially certified if she passes her test.