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The Role of Pets in Times of Transition

As many of you know, my mother passed away in January 2022.

It was indeed a challenging time for the entire family.

It was very early in the morning when we were called to the house.

Mom was already gone before each of us arrived.

Through the death of my husband in 2006, I had learned some sacred practices to help the person in their transition process. Although I didn’t know exactly where my mom was in her own process, I remembered the importance of creating a peaceful environment.

We put on soothing music to allow the Soul to journey in a peaceful way. I sat with the body, gently touched mom’s hand and thanked her for all she had brought to my life. There was a bottle of water from Lourdes, France sitting on the bookshelf next to her, so I blessed her forehead and heart. I knew the priest would come later and administer the Last Rites, but it felt right to do it at that moment too.

What I want to share with you is less about my mom’s transition and what I did, and instead share the role of our pets in times of major transition.


You see, Gibson, my brother’s 13-month-old puppy (he is still a puppy to me) that I’m honored to live with, was brought to the house that morning to be with the family.

There was plenty of activity as the morning went on...emergency personnel doing everything they are tasked to do in these situations, the police explaining things and asking questions, eventually the priest and the funeral director.

Through all of this activity, Gibson was amazingly calm and he knew exactly what to do!

He played his role very well that day!

Gibson’s role was therapy dog!


He stationed himself on the living room floor out of the way of all those coming and going in the house.

However, he perfectly positioned himself for any family member (and police too) to take a seat next to him on the floor or on the sofa and pet him as a way of soothing ourselves as we went deeper into the experience that seemed so surreal.

…And we did, over and over!

Gibson never complained, not once! As a matter of fact, to lighten things up even more, he’d throw some tail wagging into the mix, just to make us smile.

Our animals are aware that they have a “job” to do when something out of the ordinary is taking place.

Kudos to my brother, Tom, who I’m certain talked to Gibson and explained to him what was happening and what to expect when they arrived at my parents’ home.

Thank you Gibson, and to all our furry loved ones, who come through for all of us in our time of sadness and need. I love you Gibson!


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