Losing her heart dog Mace to an unexpected brain aneurism, saw Deb, who has been a dog trainer for over 45 years, struggle to make sense of her loss.  In the hope of better understanding her loss, she undertook the UK based Pet Bereavement Counselling Advanced Diploma, passing with Distinction. 

Deb has authored in peer-reviewed journals and is co-author of a book regarding regulation of the pet training industry. She is a national and international speaker, speaking at various dog training and behaviour conferences in Australia, New Zealand and the US, and has run training skills workshops around Australia and New Zealand. 

With an enthusiasm for teaching and sharing her knowledge, Deb brings a wealth of experience, passion, and scientific understanding to our wonderful world of dogs and how we interact with them. She has a deep knowledge of pet loss and its impact on human emotions and joins the team at For the Love of Your Dog to help those who wish to better understand pet bereavement or who need help in making sense of their own personal grief.


Pet Bereavement – A Complex Journey
Few people really understand the complications that grief over the death of a loved one can bring. Even fewer understand that those same feelings can and do occur at the death of a beloved pet.
In this mini-workshop Debra discusses the many types of grief and their impact on pet guardians and their families. She discusses the grief that pets left behind can also feel.
Knowing what happens to your pet’s body after death can help the grieving process. Grief is a very personal journey (despite society’s expectations of it) and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. There is no time limit on grief. There are, however, warning signs of when help is warranted.
Often the death of a pet is the first time a child experiences death. A delicate subject that will also be covered. How do you tell your children about the fact that their best friend needs to be euthanised? Why you don’t tell children the pet is going to be “put to sleep”. How children can be helped through the process will also be covered.
The complex journey that is grief will be covered in general terms, with limited time allowed for discussion of personal experiences

Anticipatory Grief – The Long Wait
Coping with the effects of anticipatory grief (grief before the death of a loved one) is very different from coping with the grief experienced after a loved one dies. Mixed feelings are often the order of the day, balancing one’s emotions between maintaining hope of life while at the same time, beginning to let go.
Grieving before the death of a loved pet does not replace or lessen grief processes after the pet has died. In fact, some studies have found that many find anticipatory grief more stressful than grief after death. However what anticipatory grief does allow is a time of preparation mentally and physically for the actual death.
During this session Debra helps people to better understand anticipatory grief, how to manage it and the session allows participants to discuss their personal concerns should they so desire.

What Went Wrong? What Happened to My Dream?
There are so many reasons why life with our chosen pet doesn’t turn out how we thought it would. Sometimes we know we are to blame. Sometimes we have no idea what happened or why. All of these mixed emotions well up and can result in a form of grief that is real and palpable.
The loss of our expectations is like a mini death of our pet and as such some people suffer the same grief as if the pet had died. Others bottle up those emotions and think that they are unsuitable feelings to have given the pet is still physically present.
Debra discusses these situations, the pent-up feelings and society’s attitude towards grief over a pet who is still alive. Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss their personal situation should they so desire.


Professional Canine Behavior Consultant (PPAB)

Certified Family Dog Mediator (FDM Education Center)

Fear Free Certified Trainer

Adv. Diploma Pet Bereavement Counselling

Dip Animal Behavior Science & Technology (CASI)

Dip Dog Training & Behavior Consulting (CASI)

Cert IV Training & Assessment



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