Terri Daniel guides animals and owners across the threshold

by: REVIEW, TIDINGS PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Terri Daniel has great insight into dogs and the people who love them. That is why she is now The Pet Pastor.

Because a pet is loved, its passing can cause the same sense of grief and loss as that of a friend or family member.

It also arouses questions, mainly, “Did I do the right thing?”

Terri Daniel wants to help those people dealing with grief and guilt in Lake Oswego. She is highly trained and experienced as a chaplain. But with her new service she is providing end-of-life spiritual support for pets and their families — on end-of-life decisions, rituals and ceremonies, and bereavement counseling.

Daniel is now “The Pet Pastor.”

“I’ve guided many people across the threshold,” Daniel said. “It is no different with animals. They already know how to die. They’re not afraid like human beings. They don’t know about hell, judgment, pain or the sense of separation. Humans have so much baggage, of course, because we have fear. A dying dog or cat only wants to get out of pain.”

Daniel might be creating a new niche in grief counseling. She moved to the Lake Oswego area to finish her counseling degree at Marylhurst University, and she has received much training at Hopewell House in Portland and Good Samaritan Hospital. Not long ago she had a big question, not about her calling but her focus.

“I thought maybe I should work with animals,” Daniel said.

There are three major stages in dealing with the death of a pet: First, learning that the animal is going to die; second, deciding the right care for a dying cat or dog; last, grief counseling.

“I want to give the owner of a dog or cat the information that will help them make their choice,” Daniel said. “I try not to influence them, but if they want my opinion I will give it. Every case is different.”

There may not seem to be much of a decision in deciding whether to put to rest a dog that is 17 years old and in constant pain. Yet the dog owner often does not know the process of death.

“Sometimes we tend to keep animals alive to make us feel better,” Daniel said. “Sometimes you are doing a dog a great kindness if we allow it to pass on.”

When a pet is actually dying, Daniel said, “I would suggest they be there to hold the animal in their arms and create a beautiful place for them. It helps an animal to have someone help them face death.”

Finally, Daniel counsels pet lovers on how to adapt to life without their cat or dog by promoting processes and rituals that will promote healing.

“I teach a workshop on how to deal with death,” Daniel said. “Death is a word that people can’t deal with.”

Daniel is already receiving endorsements praising her tenderness, understanding and sound advice in helping bereaved pet lovers.

As one person put it, “Terri’s passion and love for animals is second to none.”

To find out more about Daniel’s work with pets and owners, visit

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