Colleen has always had an affinity with animals; even from a young age, she was actively nurturing the many pets that were part of her rural background. Whether it was a cat, dog, baby racoon, or orphaned baby skunks, animals were always part of her family. However, it was the two mares that lived on the property next door that sparked her love of horses – which would become a lifelong passion.
Her second passion – connecting with people in an honest and genuine manner – has come to be a trademark. Her former employer, the President of a well-known Canadian software firm, had this to say about her:
“Colleen managed a large portfolio yet was able to maintain a one-to-one connection with clients, who always spoke highly of her and her quality of work. She was very perceptive, able to analyze issues and develop and articulate solutions for clients. Colleen’s work was always underscored by her honesty, integrity, and confidentiality.”
After a successful 23-year career in an executive senior management position, honing her “people” skills with both colleagues and clients, Colleen made a decision to pursue a different career path – one that would enable her to combine her two passions in a very unique manner and help others at the same time.
She spoke directly with Veterinarians about assisting their clients through the difficult decision to euthanize, attend an at-home or office euthanasia with the Veterinarian as needed, and provide support in the period following the death of the animal companion. Personal appointments with a number of Veterinarians revealed that each one, in different terms came to the same conclusion – they were simply not trained to offer this level of support to their clients and felt that their clients could benefit significantly from this type of assistance.
Further research showed that pet loss bereavement support was not a new idea, but one that had been developed in the UK and the United States. While still a relatively new and emerging service within the last 25 years in both locations, it is only within the last decade or so that it is gaining momentum in Canada. It Is time to move the importance of the animal-human bond to where it belongs for many, many people- as part of a family unit.
It is the goal of Pet Bereavement Service to help establish such services across Canada, making compassionate support available to all who need it.