Moss Service Funeral Home welcomes new therapy dog Milo

New resident of Moss Service Funeral Home, Milo the Therapy dog (Sara Gladney for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Moss Service Funeral Home welcomed its newest member of the staff, Milo who received a certificate for completion of his training Thursday evening. Milo is a 1-year-old Bernese Mountain dog/poodle mix or a “Bernedoodle.”

His trainer Funeral Director Dawn Holmes said, “He was a dream of mine.” Holmes first spent time around therapy dogs when her son was in and out of Children’s Hospital about 20 years ago. PAWS of Birmingham would bring dogs for the children to visit with. “I said I want to train a dog to become a therapy dog.”

When Holmes was in funeral director school, she wrote a paper on the affects of therapy dogs in the funeral industry. Holmes said she recently saw the affects of a therapy dog on a family firsthand in the funeral home, saying, “The family was very distraught over their loss, and a lot of people are, but their whole outlook changed after Milo had been in the room visiting with them.”

She continued, “I work with him daily in the funeral home. We go out, and I visit three or four stores a day so that he gets used to different places, going in and out of different doors. I place him at a door, so he knows not to run out the front door when somebody comes in.” Milo is still a puppy so he will continue training for another six months.

Moss Funeral Home also recently welcomed Legacy of Hope, a federally designated Organ Procurement Organization, to give a presentation about organ donation. Ann Rayburn, Director of Public Education at Legacy said, “As I sit in a room with people that work with grieving families, I think about how much our missions align to help support people during the worst times of their life.”

Manager Mike Pepple, Donor Program Liaison Janet Shaw (Sara Gladney for the Cullman Tribune)

Rayburn stated that Legacy of Hope used to be called the Alabama Organ Center. “I have been affiliated with donation for about 30 years and while the Alabama Organ Center described what we did practically, for me it always conjured up this image of organs in a cooler which is not really how we would like to be thought of in the community. So, Legacy of Hope much better describes our mission and our vision, which is to end the wait and suffering by shepherding the gift of life to those in need.”

Rayburn discussed a new uterus transplant program started at UAB, explaining, “I think one of the things that’s so exciting for us is the thought that one person’s gift can actually create new life. There are lots of opportunities to help people through organ and tissue donation.”

Nationally, there are about 106,000 people on the waiting list for an organ transplant and in Alabama, about 1200. Rayburn said, “Each number of those people waiting is much more than a number. Its somebody’s family member. It’s somebody’s father, mother, sister, brother.”

Eight lives can be saved by a single organ donor, and 100 lives can be improved by a single tissue donor. The most common way people register to be an organ donor in Alabama is through their driver’s license. Another way to register is online at

Donor Program Liaison Janet Shaw presented Mike Pepple, manager of Moss Service Funeral Home, with a Partners in Hope Integrity Award for his collaboration with Legacy of Hope.

Dignity Honors awards were also presented to Bess Wood, Gary Murphree, Clyde Kendrick, Lacie Nail, Carla Davis, Randy Speakman, Donnie Holmes, Chris Brooks, Jerry League, Keith Pattillo, Bradley Pepple, Perry Holmes, Ben Joslin, Arturo Michaus and Glenn Davis.

The Dignity Top Performer Award was presented to Dawn Holmes.

Five Years of Service Awards were presented to Lacie Nail and Chris Brooks.

A 50 Years of Service Award was presented to Gary Murphree. Keith Pattillo, who worked with Murphree 50 years ago, stated, “Fifty years ago, we started out we were on the bottom. We were the youngest, now we’re the oldest. I worked with Gary in about every situation imaginable in the funeral industry. I’ve always found him to be trustworthy.”

Market Director Paul Lambert, Funeral Director Dawn Holmes, Manager Mike Pepple (Sara Gladney for the Cullman Tribune)

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