Who am I?

Letter of Introduction

Penny LeischSince I’m not a vet tech, professional counselor, or veterinarian, I’m sure you want to know what type of grief training qualifies me to teach a class or offer layman support and how I got here. The short answer is that my experience with people and pets melded to form a strong background in grief, geriatrics, and special needs people and pets.

First, many years ago (I can say that, since I’ve seen over five decades go by.), I taught the probate portion of a Death and Dying psychology class at Glendale Community College, during the time I worked for Trust Counsel at a local bank. That blended into my psychology major and medical casework later in my career, which required also taking selected RN classes to handle drugs and controlled drugs. Along the way, we eventually spent over twenty-five years doing rescue work with elderly and special needs animals.

After my husband and I married, his career demanded full time travel with IBM, and I made a career change to writing, because it was a portable career. No surprise, I wrote about animals. I was the voice of Molly, a Golden Doodle, on Good Golly Miss Molly for KTVK in AZ and wrote monthly for Loving Pets Magazine, as well as other publications, until the IBM relocations declined, and we landed back in Arizona for ten more years. Those ten years were also spent caring for elderly parents–more training from nurses, doctors, hospitals, and hospice workers.

Eventually, our rescue work with special needs animals evolved into also helping my veterinarian in Arizona, because he didn’t have time to find the resources, see animals in their home environment, and develop plans that could help people keep their animals, when the care and maintenance became difficult. This involved using everything I learned about grief in school and personally, as well as dealing with many losses, along with cost of care, and the decisions that go with those situations. It all led to starting a business working with rescue groups and customers with special needs animals in Arizona, until 2006 when we relocated to Austin.

After we moved to Austin, I taught with AISD for a year and became involved in Austin’s new TNR program that started in January of 2007. I also began doing special needs consults again, along with specialized pet sitting for clients who had animals that needed extra care or around-the-clock supervision, until personal health changes caused me to take a break. Later, I returned to consulting locally on a referral basis, but I no longer provide pet sitting services.

As a giveback to the community, I offer free grief support sessions for a limited number of clients. Senior and special needs consults and euthanasia consults can be handled online for clients in any location. Grief training sessions for local (Austin area) veterinary offices are available, and an online workshop is under development. I can also provide guidance and a syllabus with a resource list for clinics in other areas to handle their own training.

As you can see, I bring personal experience to the subject, along with teaching skills, basic medical background, and hands-on pet care ranging from behavior challenges and physical limitations of pets, or owners, to high medical needs. No medical advice is given. However, I can help you figure out what questions to ask and even talk to your veterinarian for you, if you wish. All of our Catnip Casa Cat Refuge animals have medical or behavioral challenges, and many cats in two feral colonies we manage are also aging.

Please feel free to ask questions or contact me for more information.