Cop­ing with pet loss


Susan Leaver is a new breed of min­is­ter, help­ing ease the death of furry fam­ily mem­bers.

The qual­i­fied pet chap­lain of­fers fu­neral-like ser­vices and coun­selling for those who have lost a beloved pet.

Leaver still re­mem­bers the pain she felt when her child­hood cat, Smokey, was hit by car.

‘‘There was a lot of dis­be­lief first of all,’’ the New­mar­ket res­i­dent says.

‘‘Then I kept see­ing my cat even though my cat wasn’t there.’’

As she came to terms with her cat’s death, Leaver be­gan to re­alise the grief she felt was nor­mal and de­cided to help oth­ers do the same.

The 66-year-old com­pleted an eight month train­ing course through a Cana­dian web­site be­fore she qual­i­fied as a pet chap­lain.

Since then Leaver has coun­selled peo­ple who have lost their pets rang­ing from dogs to lizards.

She at­tends many an­i­mal eu­thani­sa­tions and is also avail­able for pet bless­ings and fu­ner­als which are usu­ally held in an owner’s back­yard or ceme­tery.

‘‘It’s about coun­selling the peo­ple who have lost a pet and feel pain that no one un­der­stands,’’ she says.

Leaver says so­ci­ety eas­ily dis­misses the grief peo­ple can feel when their pet dies.

It can be as painful as the death of a rel­a­tive, she says.

‘‘I know of one lady who’s cat got run over and she took two days off work to grieve.’’

De­spite be­ing a Chris­tian, Leaver says she doesn’t want to push her be­liefs on peo­ple at their time of need.

‘‘I do be­lieve very se­ri­ously that if peo­ple are griev­ing they don’t want to be thumped with any re­li­gion what­so­ever. So for me it’s about help­ing peo­ple where they are at.’’

Leaver says the amount of sup­port she is needed for varies be­tween her clients - in one case she spent three months help­ing a wo­man whose dog had died.

‘‘Ap­par­ently they didn’t put the nee­dle cor­rectly into the dog and things got to­tally out of con­trol…[the owner] was very stressed for a long time.’’

Leaver of­fers her pet chap­laincy ser­vices for free - al­though she wel­comes do­na­tions. To get in touch, con­tact 021 024 11506. 1970s clas­sic two-bed­room unit with north-west fac­ing deck and fully-fenced court­yard gar­den.

Sold by Bay­leys San­dring­ham

Check out the Cen­tral Homes sec­tion in this edi­tion of your pa­per.


Qual­i­fied pet chap­lain Susan Leaver of­fers ser­vices and coun­selling for peo­ple who have lost their pets.

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