If you are looking for a lovely holiday gift for the animal lovers on your list, I recommend Animal Blessings: Prayers and Poems Celebrating Our Pets by June Cotner (HarperCollins, 2000). I discovered Ms. Cotner’s lovely series of books with her more recently published Dog Blessings. Animal Blessings includes writings about all types of animals, from dogs, cats, and horses to wildlife including birds, deer, dolphins, and other wild creatures. A chapter called Partings contains poems and reflections on pet loss, including a lovely “Prayer for a Pet’s Memorial Service,” by SuzAnne Cole, which concludes, “We will miss her bounding through our family life, but she will always be present in our hearts.” Another passage I found moving is from “The Love they Give Us,” by Kent Greenough, “We must remember to be thankful for the time and love our animals give us while they are here…If we wish to honor them, take what they have given us, all that love, and give it back to another animal in need of help.” Animal Blessings includes creatures great and small, such as “A Fieldmouse’s Prayer,” by Nicolas Kallistos,”A Pony’s Prayer,” (author unknown), and a reflection about flying geese, “The Communion of Saints,” by Gunilla Norris, “The geese fly in the wake of one another’s wings. They literally get a lift from one another. I want to be with others this way…” While most of the writings are serious and reflective, a few are humorous, such as “Basic Rules for Cats Who Have a House to Run,” whose advice includes “Quickly determine which guest hates cats the most. Sit on that lap. If you can manage to have Friskies Fish ‘n’ Glop on your breath, so much the better…”The book also includes a lovely epitaph, “At the Grave of a Fine Cat,” by Barbara Younger, “May your dreams be blessed with legions of mice…”
Animal Blessings is the perfect size to keep on your bedside table, and read whichever page you happen to open. Each carefully chosen selection honors the beautiful spirits of our animal companions.