Comfort dogs give healing at Middleburg Heights funeral home

MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - Bella and Ozzie are working dogs, but not the kind you think.

Anthony Ripepi is their owner.

"They have an understanding of people emotions," Ripepi said.

Bella is 11 and Ozzie is 1.

Their job is to welcome people who are in one of the darkest moments of their lives.

They are grief therapy dogs and they work at A. Ripepi funeral home in Middleburg Heights.

Ripepi said Bella has been working there for seven years.

"We always wanted to do something a little different something that is going to make it more comfortable for people," Ripepi said.

People who bring their kids and sometimes don't have the words to explain their loss.

But, somehow these dogs connect.  Ripepi shared a profound story.

"The little boy was sitting by himself crying and Bella just walked up to him, she sat right in front of him she put her paw on his lap and started petting her and he just stopped."

Bella and Ozzie have been through intensive training.  They are tested in many ways.

Pulling on them, loud noises and their reactions to sudden movements,  Today all they do is show love

Yes they give kisses, hugs and just sit when you need them too.

Ripepi said everyday he is amazed by their compassion.

"The way the animal is and the animal acts how calm they are is a huge part of it," Ripepi said.

They are a huge part of A. Ripepi funeral home.  Helping heal broken hearts when you feel they can't be repaired.

Ripepi has seen it over and over.

"They've gone from a tragedy to celebrating someone's life and they help do just that for even a moment and make people feel comfortable," Ripepi said.

In the Greater Cleveland area there are maybe four to five grief therapy dogs used in funeral homes.

Bella, is so popular she has her own business card.

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