When people hear the term “Animal Chaplain”, the images conjured up in the mind may reflect that of a “Bible thumper” with a rigid “holier than thou” mentality; or perhaps a fanatical person who is a totally vegan, non- leather wearing, angry protester yelling besides animal rights groups such as PETA, while throwing fake blood at passerby’s that are wearing fur. Yes, we Animal Chaplains respect all life and believe in the spiritual value of all creation, and our core belief system is to provide comfort to animals, as well as the humans that love them, through good times and in bad, in sickness and in health
That being said, in the same manner in which we respect and cherish all of our Creator’s animal population, we respect ALL human creation as well. We are aware that individual’s religious or spiritual beliefs can be as different as our hair Abe eye color, and there are many traditions that, we as humans, follow to provide our souls with the spiritual nourishment that we need in order to navigate through the ebbs and flows of life. Despite our physical traditions however, it is safe to say that at the core of all of these eclectic beliefs is “The Golden Rule”; that is, put simply, be as nice to others, animals and humans included, as you would want them to be towards yourself.
It is implied, that being an Animal Chaplain, much of our work centers around not so joyous times; we are there to offer prayers and comfort at the end of a pet’s life, however long or short lived it may have been; we are there to officiate at whatever form of funerals or “ celebration of life” events that humans desire to have for their beloved animal companions, so they are never forgotten and always live on in both our hearts, as well as to keep emulating all of the positive life lessons that they taught us. We are there to provide emotional support after such devastating losses, as many of us are also fully trained Pet Bereavement Counselors, with a sprinkling of us even having been formally educated at the Graduate Level in the mental health field, or as vet technicians.
It is also important to note that we are also there during pet’s celebratory moments. We’re there to stand in celebration when that pet was rescued from abuse or abandonment, that finally finds it’s forever loving home that’s so well deserved; or when a new young animal life has joined a human family, and will grow and mature alongside of a human child and be bonded by love; We are there to help honor and show value to all of the animals that provide therapy to the humans who would otherwise have no reason to go out and live an abundant life. We recognize the life saving and heroic pets that are out there doing what comes naturally to them; saving, helping, comforting humans of all ages, races, religions and socioeconomic backgrounds. (I think that just maybe, God made dogs color blind on purpose!)
At the risk of continuing on and sounding like a late-night television infomercial, I will close with a few thoughts. We are a relatively new concept, and we would like to get the word out that we exist, and that fellow animal lovers are not alone, in good times and in bad. We recognize and validate the human animal bond and realize that we can never accomplish, in one lifetime, paying back our pets for all that they give us while we walk this earth. We believe in “meeting people where they’re at” in terms of their own personal and unique belief systems, when we are called upon for assistance. In a tumultuous society running rampant with negativity and vulgarity, the most important aspect of who we are and what we are about can be summed up in one four letter word…LOVE.