What are grief therapy dogs? Meet Axl and Izzy, who work full-time at this Houston funeral home

‘They are with us every day at our funeral home, and assist with all of our daily activities’

Axl, at left, and Izzy
Axl, at left, and Izzy (Photo used with permission from @grieftherapydood/Instagram)

Meet Axl and Izzy.

Axl, also known as “Grief Therapy Dood” and Izzy, “Grief Therapy Doodette,” are certified therapy dogs and work full-time as a grief therapy dogs at Carter-Conley Funeral Home in Houston.

Although there are several others in Texas and throughout the country, Axl and Izzy are the only certified therapy dogs assisting full-time at a funeral home in Houston, according to Carter-Conley Funeral Home.

Axl and Izzy, with their “parents” and owners of Carter-Conley Funeral Home, Lisa and Brad Conley, also volunteer at nursing and senior living homes, medical facilities, community events and other places where happiness is needed.

Axl began his career at Carter-Conley Funeral Home at just 2 months old, a job that involved traveling to work with the Conleys every day, socializing with people and beginning his training with a dog trainer, who was also a licensed mortician. Axl later received his certification as a therapy dog and continues to comfort families at Carter-Conley Funeral home at a time when they need it most.

As for Izzy, she was adopted from a family after Lisa and Brad Conley responded to a re-homing request. After meeting her, they just couldn’t resist that little black fluff ball, they said, and decided to add another therapy “dood” to the pack.

“Axl and Izzy have become best buds, and it is obvious that Izzy looks up to her big brother,” Lisa and Brad Conley said. “He is the best role model.”

Izzy began training to be a therapy dog immediately, and she started joining Axl and their “parents” at the funeral home every day. Izzy responded well to interacting with people and always seemed comfortable with the unique scenarios and equipment that is encountered at the funeral home and places they visit.

Once the Conleys felt confident that she could meet all of the requirements of the therapy dog certification, Izzy went through the testing process. Following in big brother Axl’s paw-prints, Izzy became a certified therapy dog.

Axl and Izzy have their own scheduled therapy visits where they are happily welcomed by the residents and staff every week at a local retirement home, along with their regular therapy visits at a local rehabilitation facility, and of course, both working every day at their full-time jobs at Carter-Conley Funeral Home.

“Axl and Izzy are always on the move and are happy to ride along with us wherever we go,” the Conleys said. “They are with us every day at our funeral home and assist with all of our daily activities, including welcoming guests, comforting the families during the planning/arrangement meeting -- they walk around and mingle, usually entertaining and bringing much-needed smiles to the family members and friends of the deceased during services.”

Lisa and Brad Conley continued, saying it’s fun to watch the joy and comfort that the dogs truly bring to people.

“Not only do they bring happiness to the families that we serve, but our employees enjoy having them around, as well,” they said. “Having therapy dogs Axl, and now Izzy, at our funeral home has been a wonderful and unique form of support and an invaluable addition to our lives and the lives of the families that we serve.”

More fun facts from the Conleys:

  • “Axl and Izzy and both Golden DOODles, and that is how we came up with Axl’s title, ’Grief Therapy Dood’ and Izzy, ’Grief Therapy Doodette.’”
  • They are each named after members of the rock band Guns N’ Roses.
  • You can follow their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

Learn more about Carter-Conley Funeral Home.