Some of the first words that are said to me when I let folks know that I’m an Animal Chaplain are - do you conduct marriage ceremonies with cats or dogs, or that’s interesting, huh I’ve never heard of that, what’s that all about, and I need to get your contact info for my friend whose dog/cat is sick! Most folks are curious as to what an Animal Chaplain does, and what religion you're associated with! Just like Chaplains, Animal Chaplains can be of a religious background, spiritual, pluralistic, atheist, agnostic, or secular background. There are many different types of areas that Animal Chaplains work and specialize in, here are just a few of them -
Here is a link with some great information explaining more about Animal Chaplaincy
I became involved in Animal Chaplaincy after the heartbreaking experience of having both my animal companions Sherlock 14 ½ year old Alaskan husky mix, and Missy “Miss Marple” 14 ¼ year old Lab/Rottweiler mix euthanized in our back yard in 2022. Sherlock had been diagnosed with at the end of May 2021 and given 6-12 months, and our sweet Missy’s physical body was just worn out! We had both in Palliative care for 9 -12 months, to help with the cancer and arthritis. We chose to say goodbye to both in our back yard, surrounded by their human family! We very sadly said goodbye to our physical Sherlock on March 10th, 2022, when the cancer finally took his sweet body, and our physical Missy on July 17th, 2022, just over four months apart! It was devastating for me, even though I had been in a pet loss support group since saying goodbye to Sherlock, having to deal with the pain of Missy’s loss four months later was heartbreaking beyond words. It was during those four months that I came to find out about the Compassionate Consortium, and their Animal Chaplaincy program. I didn’t inquire into the animal chaplaincy program at first, but as I listened each week to folks grieving over the loss of their animal companions in the Animal loss support group, I realized how little support and information there was out there for those grieving this loss! Many of the folks found that even though they may have some commiserating words at the initial loss, these were rapidly replaced by the following–
These are just some of the words that can be said over the loss of an animal companion.
Research over the last two decades has shown, the closer our relationship with our animal companions, that the grief we feel over their loss is comparable to that of losing a partner/parent. For many folks, no matter what age whether they are young adults or seniors living on their own, and homeless folks - all with animal companions. The loss of their animal companions can have great mental health impacts from grief, loneliness, isolation, depression, anxiety, etc.
After my six-month study through the Compassionate Consortium, I became a Certified Animal Chaplain, and next year (2024) I plan on finishing up the program to become an Ordained Animal Chaplain. Among the many services I bring to support folks here are some of them
If you don’t see a support service listed or would like more information please feel free to contact me.
Please visit my resources page to find out more information in regards to animal loss support groups, animal hospice and palliative care, Compassionate Consortium