Before I was a writer, I was a clinical therapist. I landed there through life experiences that made me want to understand relationships and myself better, but I struggled to feel authentically connected to the field. In fact, it terrified me! I was easily overwhelmed, anxious, & and sensitive; and my heart broke into a million pieces every day.
I adopted my "soul dog," Tovi, while in graduate school; his companionship - the best twelve years of my life - enriched my life in ways I could have never imagined. He was TRULY the love of my life; my once-in-a-lifetime dog. He gave me the best days of my life, and when he died: the worst. EVERYTHING changed. My life split into the Before and After. Months of debilitating grief passed, and I found myself on a journey to understand what I was going through and how to move forward.
My curiosity led me to leave my career and become a Pet/Human Bond Researcher and Writer. It's not a financially compensated job (and I'm fairly certain I coined the name) simply born and fueled by my passion. I found that I could still use my clinical skills, just in a different capacity - to WRITE about our relationships with our pets, which, when it comes down to it, are not different from any other relationship.
I refer to my writing as “Pet Therapy Notes,” a name born from my habit of scribbling thoughts and insights in journals throughout the years. Tovi spent the last few weeks of his life in a hospital where I wrote him notes about our life together, placing them in a Ziplock bag that hung on his cage. The bag also contained tiny rocks that we collected on our countless hikes to remind him of those good days and hope for the adventures to come once he recovered – sadly, that never happened.
My final gift to Tovi was the courage to be seen. His presence felt like a warm blanket that kept me safe, and I felt lost without him. Moving on without him forced me to grow into myself - my After. In the process of healing, I found my voice...AND the courage to share it.