The story of Pet Loss Help really began after the death of my late canine Pet Partner, Dickens, aka Blue Skye Christmas Triumph, a uniquely special and empathic golden retriever. Dickens and I worked with patients and staff in individual and group capacities in nursing homes, with veterans, and families affected by 9/11.
Dickens was recognized by the Delta Society and inducted into the New Jersey Medical Veterinary Association Hall of Fame for his pioneering work in helping establish three psychiatric AAI programs in local hospitals. He appeared on Deborah Norville's Inside Edition, among other programs and his work was co-honored with his steward through receipt of Community Service Award from then president of NYU.
After Dickens died suddenly of a heart based tumor, I found little support for mourning his death. This website was created as a "first responders" resource to help individuals enduring the initial shock of their companion animal's loss find help for healing. In addition, after his death, his compassionate veterinarian Dr. John DeVries, and I formed the longest running animal companion bereavement group in northern NJ at Oradell Animal Hospital which continues today.
As a clinical social worker and Adjunct Associate Professor at NYU's Silver School of Social Work, I continue to study the human animal bond, offer therapy to individuals enduring animal companion loss and develop courses for future mental health practitioners interesting in pursuing veterinary social work. I write, conduct workshops, present at conferences and create webinars on topics related to the human animal bond. My book Mourning Companion Animals: Guiding Clients from Loss to Legacy,will be available in May 2024 (Routledge Press).
I am a former Public Reviewer for the National Institute of Mental Health and a recipient of a Golden Bell Leadership Award from the Mental Health Association in NJ for my work as a clinician and advocate. In addition to my course at NYU, Animal Companion Bereavement in Clinical Social Work, you may be interested in the other courses and trainings I offer for veterinary practices and mental health practitioners.