Pet Counseling Services
- Are you having trouble regaining interest in everyday life after losing a pet?
- Is taking care of pets who have chronic issues taking a toll on your own well-being?
- Are you taking better care of your pets and neglecting your own self-care?
- Has not reaching a goal in dog-related activities (earning a title, certification), having to “retire” a pet early, or facing rejection in the dog show ring impacted other areas of your life?
- Do you work in the veterinary profession, animal rescue and welfare, animal shelters or any other animal-related area and do you feel burned out and stressed due to the never-ending issues related to this important work that you do?
Our pets are an important part of our lives and losing them can be like losing a member of the family.
Animals provide unconditional love, greet us with a wagging tail, and enjoy just being with us. Unfortunately, having animals as part of our lives, whether as part of our family or if you work in an animal-related job, giving our hearts to animals also means we may suffer to a greater extent when something happens to them.
Our pets leave us way too soon and the loss of a pet can be very difficult and the hole it leaves affects us in different ways. Besides having to handle the grief, we may also second guess the decisions we were suddenly forced to make. Unless you are talking with another pet owner, other people may not understand how grieving their loss can lead to increased sadness and anxiety that may interfere with your ability to enjoy life. Many people I work with in counseling feel guilt and shame over just calling requesting help after many are told by others that “this is only a pet.” This comment is extremely painful to hear and may leave you wondering if there is something wrong with you. Actually after losing a beloved pet, what you are experiencing is part of a normal grief response after losing an important member of your family.
Besides experiencing a pet’s death, other losses experienced may be if you work as a team with your pet doing therapy work, performance events (agility, obedience, conformation, etc) and your pet either has to retire from that event or you have to stop training due to a pet’s injury or just the pet’s lack of desire to do the chosen activity. This can leave you with a feeling of loss over the team work you once had and requires a transition into understanding your relationship with your pet in a different way. Maybe your pet has to transition from competing in agility to doing therapy work. Maybe your horse is no longer able to compete in jumping events but would be good at equine therapy. There are options but it is also difficult to handle the loss you feel at giving up on a dream, a hobby and the work you did with your animal.
If you are feeling burned out, stressed, loss of interest in things that you normally enjoyed and have been giving your heart and soul to taking care of animals and just don’t have the energy you once had, you may be experiencing compassion fatigue or caregiver’s fatigue. This can occur whether you are taking care of an animal, working in an animal-related field, or taking care of other living beings. It is common to second guess your passion to help others and some people even choose to leave their field to pursue another career or decide they just cannot handle helping others anymore. What often happens is the feeling and symptoms associated with compassion fatigue will follow you to another field because the basic cause of your symptoms, isn’t that you have lost your love for helping others but you have neglected your own self-care in the process. But there is hope once you recognize the symptoms and develop a plan as part of recovery.
I have been a pet owner most of my life and as a trained therapist, I can help you work through the grief so you can celebrate your pet’s life in a way that will honor the relationship you had together.
I have been involved in local dog clubs for over 25 years and competed in agility, obedience, conformation, herding and hunt tests with my dogs. I trained two dogs as TOUCH therapy dogs, one of which was certified in animal-assisted crisis response. I experienced the power of the human-animal bond and grief after losing a pet and ending a performance “career” after my dog’s injury. Enduring the prolonged rehabilitation process was a challenging and emotional experience leading to some closed doors while opening
I have volunteered with my therapy dogs and have seen the radical changes pets make in people’s recovery and lives. Sharing my therapy dogs with others has been an important part of my career as a therapist and licensed clinical social worker.
Presentations and Consultations
Besides working individually to help people overcome animal-related issues, I also do presentations for the animal community to help veterinary professionals, animal shelter and rescue staff deal with symptoms of compassion fatigue and stress-reduction. I also help teach ways to reduce work-related stress while helping develop coping skills.
If you are an animal care worker and don’t necessarily need individual therapy, please call me at 314-899-7140 to discuss having a consultation to help deal with your work-related issues.
Whether you are struggling from pet loss and bereavement, an animal care professional who is struggling with work-related stress and compassion fatigue or if you would like to schedule a presentation or consultation session so I can assist you or your staff overcome work-related issues, please give me a call and let me know how I can assist you. My mission as a Veterinary Social Worker and therapist is to help those who value the importance of the human-animal connection continue working in the field and providing important care to our animals.
If you have any questions, please call me at 314-899-7140.
Available for those experiencing the loss of a beloved pet and any challenges experienced in your life or work with animals. Individual sessions for pet owners who are dealing with emotional issues. Group sessions as requested.
Individual or group sessions are available upon request as well as presentations on compassion fatigue for veterinary professionals.
DOG CLUBS/LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS
Breeders and dog lovers may experience many types of loss, which is not only loss of life of a beloved pet but also the loss of a dream (canine athlete is unable to compete). Presentations on the human-animal bond and compassion fatigue.
Let me help you find your happiness again, learn coping strategies to improve your quality of life, and get you on your own path to wellness!
I’ve always been a pet lover. I remember when I was 7, my great-uncle Benji said to my parents, “Allison needs a dog.” It was at that time, my life changed.
My phone rang one early morning; the caller was very anxious: “He may have to go back!” Elizabeth was tired, frustrated and at her wits’ end. “I’ve never given a pet back before, but I don’t know what else to do!”
As we walked around another adoption event with all the sad eyes peering through the cages, all seeming to be pleading “Please take me home with you,” I could hardly stand it anymore. If I had room for them at home, they’d all be mine.
Here is a video done after temperament testing a litter of 7 week old Golden Retriever puppies. The cicadas provided a very loud symphony in the background.