Funeral Business Advisor sat down with Angie King, a funeral director at Pellerin Funeral Home in Louisiana to learn more about her career, experiences in the funeral industry, and therapy dog Lucy.
Did you always want to be a funeral director?
No, I did not. I never really knew what I wanted to do until I saw how rewarding the job was. It was never a career pathway I had thought about until I saw what a difference my husband made as a funeral director.
What steps did you take to become a funeral director?
I commuted to Houston for 15 months to complete mortuary school. Then shortly after that I started an internship at Grammier-Oberle Funeral Home in Texas where my husband was also working at the time.
What is your favorite part about working in the industry?
Helping people. Touching the lives of the families we work with is reason enough to go to work every day.
What sets your funeral home apart from others in the area?
In addition to our outstanding customer service, we also have a therapy dog named Lucy. We did a lot of research to find Lucy. We needed a dog that was very docile for our funeral home and also looked into finding a dog that did not shed and was hypoallergenic and that’s how we landed on a Golden Doodle. As far as I know, we are the only funeral home in the state that offers a therapy dog.
What training did Lucy go through to become a certified therapy dog?
When we first got her, I worked with her personally and with a trainer to make sure she could pass a few tests. She needed to have good manners and know basic obedience. Her training wasn’t nearly as strict as a working service dog, but she did spend two weeks at a training facility doing her homework and brushing up on her skills to become officially registered.
How has Lucy made a difference in your funeral home?
She makes a difference everyday she is in the funeral home. For example, just the other day she helped a little 9 year old girl who was afraid to come in the funeral home because she had just lost her mother. With Lucy there the girl was able to feel comfortable enough to come inside and see the service.
We even have grown adults who will lay with her on the floor and cry to find comfort. It’s touching to see how great she is with them and how much she can help everyone that walks through our doors, no matter what age they are.
Just last week, we had a little four year old boy in the funeral home and he hung out with Lucy the whole time. He wanted Lucy to go see his mom in the Chapel and asked her to follow him there. They were inseparable and it really touched my heart. People come in and expect to see Lucy now, having her has been very rewarding.
What are you most proud of in your career thus far?
I’m just glad that I was able to find a career that is so rewarding. Getting to know the families in the area and connect with the community is more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined. It makes me feel good to know that I’m helping out and making a difference. I’m proud to know that people can depend on me.
You never realize what it’s like to go through planning a funeral until you actually do it. We do our best every day to put ourselves in the shoes of our families to make sure we cover everything we would want for ourselves. Working hard for the families that choose us is truly something we are proud of.
What does excellent customer service mean to you?
Excellent customer service means paying attention to details. My husband and I are both really good at keeping an open ear and not missing anything. Customer service is in the details. If you are paying attention to the little things, customer service will be there.
Looking forward to the future, what are you most excited about?
I’m excited about our new puppy, Milo. He’s a Golden Doodle as well. I’m excited to work through the therapy dog certification with him.
Do you have any advice for those who are just entering the field, especially those that may be younger?
After being in the business for so many years, you just learn so much and you want to give advice. What it really comes down to is paying attention to detail. You have to remember to listen. In addition to that our main motto is to treat everyone how you would want to be treated.
How are you involved in your community?
My husband is involved in Rotary and I stay active with Lucy in the community. I take her to nursing homes, elementary schools and even colleges in the area. Lucy does a lot for this community. FBA