Gary Kowalski is a Unitarian Universalist minister and author of seven books on nature, science, and the environment. One of them is a favorite of ours — The Souls of Animals. In this revised edition of an earlier book, he writes about the challenges faced by those with ailing pets or experiencing the loss of an animal companion. Kowalski brings warmth and wisdom to these difficult times.

Many people think of pets as genuine members of the family. In fact, men and women often talk about their animal companions as their best friend or the only one who loves them unconditionally. They know the truth of Anatole France's words: "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." Kowalksi includes chapters on the question of whether or not pets go to heaven and on the stories of animals in the world as spirits.

Anyone who has talked to their dog or cat about going away for a vacation knows how important it is to express our love and appreciation for the animal when he or she is terminally ill. He sees the value of euthanizing an animal companion who is suffering and describes it as "a painless alternative to unnecessary agony." Kowalski shares poems, readings, prayers, and rituals to use after the death of a pet. Even in the last act, our animal companions can bestow upon us another gift:

"If they can help us remember that death is not our enemy but simply one more moment in the world's endless process of becoming, dissolution, and renewal, they will have imparted a final gift."

You may visit Gary Kowalski at his website