48 LONGISLANDPRESS.COM • OCTOBER 2018
SOOTHING GRIEVING FAMILIES
BY TIMOTHY BOLGER
As grief-stricken family members accept
condolences and say goodbye to a loved one at
Moloney’s Hauppauge Funeral Home, in walks
someone unexpected to help ease their heartache:
Kota the comfort dog.
The Moloney family, which runs seven funeral
homes on Long Island, bills itself as the
first funeral home on LI to house a certified
therapy dog to help families cope with loss,
although others are training pups to do the
“Kota made me feel really good,” says one
woman who had services for a loved one at
Moloney’s. “He sat next to me the whole time.
He’s really such a good dog.”
Hundreds of organizations nationwide
train comfort dogs and their use at funerals
is part of a new trend, according to the American
Kennel Club, which oversees the Canine
Good Citizen program.
Kota, a Labrador/Weimaraner mix with
short black fur and yellow eyes, was rescued
from a shelter in Arkansas several years ago.
Impressed with his smarts and docile nature,
the Moloney family signed Kota up for comfort
dog training. Wantagh-based Sublime
K-9 Dog Training tested Kota in May, and he
passed. The funeral staff asks families if they
want Kota to join them for 20 minutes during
the first part of visitation.
“I’ve had people call and they’ve asked for
him,” says Peter Moloney, co-owner of the funeral
homes. “It brings a completely different
dimension … unlike I’ve ever seen before. I’ve
been doing this for a long time and it’s a very
unique experience for the families.”
Therapy dogs can reduce stress for individuals
of all ages, offsetting the effects
of anxiety for those in mourning. Suffolk
County SPCA Chief Roy Gross recalls how
his former comfort dog, Cody, soothed first
responders at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11,
“We know how well it works,” Gross says.
“You have a bad day, you come home and
you know that your dog is gonna sense that
... you’re sad, you’re stressed, and it’s like an
immediate stress relief. Your blood pressure
drops, you just feel better having that pet
COPING WITH DEATH
Kota the comfort dog with his handler outside Moloney’s
Hauppauge Funeral Home (Long Island Press photo)
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