In Conversation: On Loving Pets, Here and Hereafter
Wednesday, March 16:30—7:30 PMGalfand Meeting RoomWestborough Public Library55 West Main St, Westborough, MA, 01581
E.B. Bartels has had a lot of pets—dogs, birds, fish, tortoises. As varied a bunch as they are, they’ve taught her one universal truth: to own a pet is to love a pet, and to own a pet is also—with rare exception—to lose that pet in time. But while we have codified traditions to mark the passing of our fellow humans, most cultures don’t have the same for pets.
In this conversation with Dr. Karen Fine, author Bartels (Good Grief: On Loving Pets, Here and Hereafter, 2022) takes us from Massachusetts to Japan, from ancient Egypt to the modern era, in search of how we honor pets. She describes veterinarians, archaeologists, ministers, and more, offering an idiosyncratic, inspiring array of rituals—from the traditional (scattering ashes, commissioning a portrait), to the grand (funereal processions, mausoleums), to the unexpected (taxidermy, cloning).
The central lesson: there is no best practice when it comes to caring for your pet. Punctuated by wry, bighearted accounts of Bartels’s own pets and their deaths, this presentation gives space to talk about loving and losing our animal family.
Dr. Karen Fine (she/her/hers) is a holistic veterinarian who writes about the human-animal bond, holistic veterinary medicine, pet loss, grief, and narrative medicine. She owned and operated her own house call practice, Fine Veterinary House Calls, for twenty-five years.
Her memoir, The Other Family Doctor: A Veterinarian Explores What Animals Can Teach Us About Love, Life and Mortality, explores her experiences as a pet owner and veterinarian, and will be published in March 2023 by Anchor Books, a division of Penguin Random House.
Dr. Fine currently practices small animal medicine in Central Massachusetts, where she lives with her husband and son and an assortment of rescues. She enjoys walking her dogs, eating chocolate, reading, writing, and horseback riding.
Adults and teens welcome.
Registration for this event has now closed.