Do animals have souls? Do we bond spiritually with them? How do you know your pet loves you? Colorado country veterinarian Karlene Stange gives us the kernels of truth about the spirit, or anima, of animals from the perspective of each major religion and distills these into a very practical philosophy: “We must be grateful for the service and friendship animals provide, and celebrate their lives, honor loving memories, and have no regrets.”
Vets in rural practice face especially difficult illnesses, physical conditions, and emotional trials, not like dog-and-cat vets who see their “patients” in sterile urban offices. Dr. Karlene Stange embraced these difficulties because her work led her to spiritual awareness and even bliss, despite the inevitable losses and horrors. She found that her experience was described in Jungian psychology: animals led her to her anima, her true inner self and what in Latin means “soul,” “breath,” and “life itself.” Case examples from her practice illustrate Stange’s journey to understand the spiritual nature of the animal-human bond. This led her to Buddhist, Christian, Sufi, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, and pagan teachings. Her evolved understanding offers us a unique interpretation of our love for animals, a compelling tour of spiritual traditions, and, ultimately, a healing and joyful engagement with the creatures with whom we share our planet.