A Labrador grief-therapy dog was honored Tara, a 13-year-old therapy dog, died on Tuesday. Her funeral was held at Schoedinger Midtown Chapel on E. State Street in Columbus, Ohio.
The black Labrador Retriever used to ease people’s grief when she was still living. Wearing her blue service harness, Tara lay on her side in a small sheet-covered casket. Beside her were two stuffed toys, a baseball, a small piece of peanut-butter sandwich and a yellow rose.
About four dogs and 25 people attended the viewing and chapel service.
Among her canine visitors were Dexter the Doberman who sported a gray and white bow tie, and Willow the Labradoodle who wore a purple ribbon. The pooches approached Tara’s casket to bid her farewell.
Tara’s casket was placed in a sea of beautiful flowers with a ribbon that reads: “Our Faithful Companion.”
A basket filled with tennis balls was placed at the chapel entrance. The basket had a sign that said, “Tara loved her balls. In memory of her, please take one home.” Nearby, there was also a basket of bone-shaped dog treats and Tara’s collar and leash.
Tears were shed and dogs whined as Tara was wheeled into the chapel.
The song Somewhere Out There echoed throughout the venue, followed by a musical version of The Rainbow Bridge poem about reuniting with a pet in heaven.
Schoedinger celebrant Andrew Hoover lit white taper candles to symbolize Tara’s life and her memory.
“In all my life, I never thought I’d be doing a eulogy for a dog, but Tara was more than a dog to me and probably to each of you,” said Mike Schoedinger, president of Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service. “She taught us a lot about supporting the grieved. She helped to lighten a mournful atmosphere while bringing peace to individuals during an upsetting time.
“I watched people stroke her fur and the comfort that came from this. Her steady and unwavering companionship provided consolation to so many. She taught us unconditional love.”
Tara’s human, Roberta Knauf, said that the gentle Labrador worked for the past three years at Schoedinger, attending funerals when requested. Schoedinger said the company began promoting her last year with radio and television ads.
Willow will take her place.
The Labrador was euthanized after having an attack caused by laryngeal paralysis –a disorder that would eventually have caused her to suffocate if she got too excited or drank water.
“Tara loved to work,” Knauf said. “Her very final day, she got excited because we were coming back to work on Tuesday after a long Memorial (Day) weekend.”
When she was only 8 weeks old, Tara had been taken to Canine Partners for Life to be trained as a service dog for people with mobility issues. That didn’t work out, Knauf said, because Tara was “obsessed with balls”.
Tara became a breeding dog and had two litters for a total of 22 puppies. Then, she became an ambassador for Canine Partners, Knauf said. The Lab also worked in a prison program and was a grief-therapy dog for a pet funeral home in Hermitage, Pa.
Tara provided peace and solace until her last breath.
“At the very last moment, I remember her laying her head on my lap and looking at me as if she was comforting me,” she said.
Knauf also said that Tara will be cremated, and a part of her remains will be inurned at Canine Partners. The remainder will be mixed with the ashes of her sister, Nika. Their combined ashes will be used to plant a tree in Hermitage.
Image and article source: The Columbus Dispatch