Puppy Party at a Morgue?!

I left the office with a box full of puppies and ended up learning at ton about the morgue at the state Medical Examiner’s office. Crazy day.

Last week, I loaded up a box of Nuzzles and Co. puppies in the big Mix van and drove them to a half-dozen listener offices. Is there a better way to celebrate 105 Days of Love than with puppies at work? No, I didn’t think so. 

On an Instagram post I asked you to comment the address where your work and if selected, these two little cuties would make their way to your office. Our journey stretched from Provo to Downtown Salt Lake City.

Some offices had tiny a tiny audience, others an enormous one. Regardless of size, everywhere we went the employees were stoked. To be honest, so were the puppies. But nothing could prepare me for what came after all of this. 

“Tiny” as in 3 total employees.

Only a handful of the total employees that stopped scuttled out of their cubicles at Health Equity in Draper.

There’s one thing you need to know about me before we get into this; I have a fascination with true crime and the death care industry. I’m going to go ahead and blame my mother for this one. Each day before school, she’d do her hair in the bathroom while I sat in her adjoining bedroom watching whatever she put on the TV. The only problem is what she usually put on TV; Reruns of Forensic Files and Court TV. There was a pretty long stretch of 5th grade where all I watched was the Scott Peterson trial.

Brandon showing me around the morgue at the Utah State Medical Examiner’s office.

That was the birth of my true crime obsession. I read everything I could get my hands on in our middle school library about forensic sciences, I watched CSI: like it was my job, took forensics classes in college, and in my later years, read book after book about the death care industry (A.K.A. what happens to your body when you die). Two book recommendations: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty and Stiff by Mary Roach. 

So when my new best friend Brandon invited the puppy party to the state Medical Examiner’s office, it was going to take an earthquake, hurricane, wildfire, landslide, and an act of god to keep me away. For one thing, if there was ever an office that needed a little bit of puppy lovin’, it’s the one where they process dead bodies all day. And two, I’m nosy AF and I needed to know what was going on in there.

The first thing you need to know about the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner (M.E.) is that it’s beautiful. They moved into their new Taylorsville office in Feb. 2017. It’s sleek and modern with a huge art installation to the south. From the outside, it looks more like a new condo or college campus building than a morgue. I’m not sure what I expected it to look like. But not this.

Even the lobby area was “normal” looking. 

As we walked in, people hustle and bustled from office to office, computer to computer. If you didn’t know better, you’d think you had walked into a call center. 

Word to the wise: don’t mess with the woman at the front desk. She saw the Mix 105.1 logo on my shirt and immediately tried to shoo me away. “We’re not doing press today!” 

Once they realized we were there with puppies, the tone got much warmer. 

Investigators, forensic pathologists, morgue workers, and office workers filed in to play with the puppies. In most work places, this might be seen as a way for people to get out of work. But the looks of pure joy on their faces tell me that they were genuinely excited to have something cute, fluffy, and alive visit their office. 

This gal in the colorful dress is the one who tried to kick me out. Don’t worry. We’re best friends now.

Not only is Brandon an avid listener of our morning show, he is also manages the morgue. He’s responsible for overseeing autopsies, transportation, and storage of every body that comes through the M.E.’s office. By the way, that’s a lot of bodies. There is only one M.E. in the state of Utah. If a physician calls for an autopsy, whether it’s in Logan or Saint George, Moab or Tooele, the body will end up on one of these tables. 

According to Brandon, from the time they start their day at 7:30am to the time they end it (whenever that could be), the morgue processes a body every 30 minutes. Mondays are even more daunting because autopsies are not performed on Sundays. Luckily, the puppies were brought in to help. 

The most beautiful thing about that day was just how happy the puppies made everybody. The M.E. workers said that when you work where they do, you tend to turn into a dog person. That’s fair. They see the absolute worst that humanity has to offer. I get slightly inconvenienced at Starbucks and I’m like ‘Ugh! I hate everyone!’ 

Morgue and funeral workers get a reputation of being “creepy” or “weird.” But honestly, they’re my heroes. Imagine waking up every day knowing you’re about to see some really traumatizing stuff. But you get up and do it anyway because somebody has to. These people help bring murderers to justice and determine cause of death. They help loved ones navigate funerals and grief. They have a thankless, yet necessary position and we at Mix want to thank them for all they do. 


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