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Grief dog in training with Nokesville School third graders

Lily, a one-year-old chocolate lab, is more than an adorable puppy, she’s a dog with a job to do. Lily’s owners, Gina and Mike Post, the owners and operators of the Baker-Post Funeral Home and Cremation Center, are having her trained as a grief service dog.

The Posts admit that the concept of involving a service dog in a funeral home setting may be new, but Gina Post explained that, “Many children have not experienced death in their lives yet, let alone ever been in a funeral home.” They feel this makes Lily a wonderful, calming companion to children and families in mourning.

So how did Lily end up in Tiffany Kingston’s third-grade class at The Nokesville School?

In November 2018, the Posts decided that Lily could use more training around children. Knowing that The Nokesville School has brought therapy dogs into classrooms in the past, the Posts thought that the school, which their son attends, might be the perfect place for Lily to train.

“I explained to Mrs. Kingston what Lily was training for and how the children could help her, and of course she already knew how the children benefit from reading to a dog! After finding out what Lily was training for, she invited us to use her class for training. It is great self-control training for Lily to be around kids, as they carry a lot of natural energy, and smells!” said Gina Post.

Now, Lily spends about an hour with Kingston’s third-grade class almost every Wednesday. Kingston, said, “I love animals and the positive atmosphere they bring to the classroom. Lily’s presence motivates and excites my students to read and share what they have learned in class. They look forward to [Lily’s] visits, and each time she comes they all get time with her.”

Over the past few months, the students have shared much of their learning with Lily. They have read to her, shared their writing pieces with her, and introduced her to their model of The Parthenon. Recently, each student took turns reading their special animal reports to Lily.

“I have noticed that the couple of shy students forget they are shy readers when they are reading to Lily. It really is a win-win for Lily and the children!” says Gina Post.

Kingston says, “I am a firm believer that animals in the classroom help motivate and inspire children. Lily provides them with an extra boost of confidence, courage, and comfort when they share and discuss their learning out loud. We are all just happy to be the helpers that are preparing Lily to comfort and provide peace to so many others in the future.”

Lily will complete her training and begin service dog testing around the age of two. Once her training is complete, she will work in the funeral home daily, in whatever grief capacity the families need of her.

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