By Corky Mau
At A Loss
Chaplain helps pet owners say farewell
Monica Hart went from corporate marketing consultant to pet chaplain. When I met the Pocket resident and learned about her new passion, I didn’t see the connection. But her journey was no accident.
“Spirit has always been my guiding light,” Hart says. “It has nourished my professional career, life coaching, and now as a pet chaplain.”
Pet chaplaincy is a relatively new industry. Pet chaplains provide interfaith, non-denominational, spiritual care for owners and their pets. They bring emotional support during the grieving process.
Several veterinary schools and animal clinics fund pet-support programs. According to the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement, there are only a handful of pet chaplains and counselors in California, most in the Bay Area and Los Angeles region.
Hart has been a prayer chaplain for two decades. In 2019, she was accepted into the Clinical Chaplain Program at Kaiser Permanente, a 12-month program.
“On many occasions, I was the only chaplain working with hospital staff,” she says. “I listened and prayed with patients and families. Many patients told me how the unconditional love from their ‘fur babies’ filled them with a sense of peace and love to help them heal. This resonated with me.”
Hart’s own pets have been a major influence. Last year, she said goodbye to her longhaired mini dachshund, Simon Elliott. He lived 18½ years and is deeply missed. Today, Hart finds joy and love with Caramel Louise, a rescue wired-haired dachshund.
Wish I had known about pet chaplains when my dachshund, Freddie, faced end-of-life challenges.
Freddie and I were inseparable, especially after my husband passed away. She loved car rides along the Delta and to the Bay Area, walks along the Pocket canal and play dates with four-legged friends.
She was 17½ years old. Watching her lose mobility, hearing and eyesight was heartbreaking. I struggled with the decision to put her down after a cancerous tumor was found in her stomach. Hart would have been invaluable.
Since 2015, Hart has partnered with Professional Village Compounding Pharmacy and local animal welfare agencies. Among other services, she provides celebration-of-life ceremonies and grief spiritual coaching. Vets refer many of her clients. She provides complimentary services to the homeless community and their pets.
When dealing with a seriously ill animal or an end-of-life decision, a pet chaplain can create a bridge to help move through grief. “I’m honored and privileged to serve pet owners who are grieving their pet’s situation,” she says.
Contact Hart at email@example.com.
SPAY & NEUTER CLINIC
Even before the pandemic, low-cost spay and neuter services were in short supply. Enter Julie Virga and Elevation Animal Rescue Mobile Clinic, a mobile pet van based in Auburn. The bright yellow van sets up in the back parking lot at the Elks Lodge, March 8 through April 17 from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Medical professionals will spay and neuter your pet for a low-cost fee.
“A critical first step of animal welfare is to spay and neuter,” Virga says. Friends of Front Street Shelter helped make the mobile clinic visit possible. Book appointments at elevationanimalrescues.com. For information about vaccinations, deworming and flea treatment, call (279) 999-2447.
LIVING QUILT BLOOMS
Earth Day arrives April 22. Take a walk to the Community Garden at Sojourner Truth Park. Check out the “Living Quilt” garden bed.
Environmental artist Jane Ingram Allen designed and made the paper “quilt” embedded with local wildflower seeds. It was installed last November. I walked over the other day and the seeds were starting to sprout. Hope to see a bed of colorful flowers blooming soon!