Dr. Wallace Sife: the Founder of the APLB
As a young man, Wallace Sife served in combat in the US Army in Korea, where he was wounded and then returned to the line. After his discharge he went on in night schools to complete his BA and MA degrees in English and Education at Brooklyn College, a MA and Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from New York University, and another Ph.D. in Transcognitive Psychology and Speedreading from the Union Institute in Cincinnati. Since then he authored a total of ten books and three audio tapes and records on widely varied subjects.
In 1993, after going through the personal tragedy of losing his beloved dog, Edel Meister, he wrote his popular The Loss of a Pet. It won the coveted Maxwell award of the Dog Writers of America, and was cited as the best book on pets, for that year – and now is in its fourth edition. Among other important augmentations this much-expanded version has a special section in the chapter on religion, for those who do not believe in that. It has always been the best-selling book on this subject, and it is widely considered to be the seminal work in this important new field. It is now starting to be used in veterinary medical and technical colleges for instruction in pet loss, and as a means to help with professional sensitivity, depression and dysfunction resulting from repeated exposure to pet death and euthanasia.
One of his other publications After Stroke: Enhancing Quality of Life has recently been translated into Italian. It is one of the most popular books on this topic, and was initially written for the stroke victim and family who are depressed and frustrated by inabilities to communicate and function properly. He is also an accomplished poet, and wrote two editions of Modern Rubaiyat, the first of which was nominated for the Pulitzer prize in poetry. His latest book is about Woodstock, and coming of age in that town and era. In addition to his books and updated editions, Dr. Sife has written many articles and essays on different subjects.
In 1998 at a Barnes and Noble book signing/lecture for the second edition of The Loss of a Pet he enlisted some of those attending, and then founded the APLB. He is currently the CEO and Chairman of the Board. Under his leadership this nonprofit organization is the acknowledged leading authority and means for help and growing awareness in a newly emerged field. Its website is now used by grieving people all over the world. Dr. Sife trained every member of the large APLB staff, and its six weekly chat rooms are successfully serving a very important need, everywhere.
Dr. Sife hosts one of these popular online chat rooms, and he supervises the other five. He also designed and implemented a unique internship program of instruction in his Friday night online chats, providing trainees with free instruction and supervised fieldwork, there. Here is where he teaches all his prospective chat room hosts and assistants to actively deal with the unique issues that arise from the loss of a beloved pet. This is a powerful practicum, providing these interning counselors with specialized training and experience that the average pet loss bereavement counselor could not get in ten years of private practice. Dr. Sife is the only person doing this, anywhere. Under his active leadership and supervision the APLB chat rooms have successfully assisted over 52,000 grieving visitors in the past nineteen years of operation online. People discover this important resource and come there in despair and depression, after the death of a pet. The affects of Dr. Sife’s counsel are profound, quick and pragmatic, and so many have gratefully become dues-paid supporting members. He replies pro bono to about 20 Emails and phone calls every day, from people needing guidance. They also come to him and the APLB for special help with their unique despondency and different problems after a beloved pet has gone missing.
In addition, he created a customized ten-hour training seminar for those who want to be professional counselors in this field. This is given at each of the APLB biennial conferences. Ten continuing education credits are certified by NASW and the AAVSB for completion of this course. Because of popular demand and need he developed a 5-week online version of this training, and now also teaches those seminars twice each year. He does this while establishing basic standards of professional excellence in this new and unregulated field. Dr. Sife is a pioneer here, and the only distinguished professional pet loss bereavement counselor who is training others to counsel in this very necessary and fast-growing field.
He is now semi-retired, and volunteering about 35 hours every week, overseeing the APLB and participating in all its work. This includes free counseling to many individuals every week, in matters related to the loss of their pets. Over the years he has also written several articles for various pet clubs.
Dr. Sife has also developed a program for the APLB that is made available at no expense to anyone wanting to start and manage a pet loss support group. He has helped inaugurate over a dozen, in the past two years, with three in other countries. In addition, he also designed and implemented the APLB’s eight international conferences.
In 1997 when he got his beloved puppy, Edel Meister, he became active for 22 years in the Dachshund Association of Long Island (DALI). Now he is also involved in animal rights work, throughout the world. He writes and communicates extensively in all media on all aspects of man’s loving bond and stewardship of animals, and has become the acknowledged leading authority in his field. In addition to lecturing before many pet clubs, assisting owners, he has addressed the New York State Veterinary Medical Association, the New York State Veterinary Technicians Association, and the International Association of Pet Cemeteries. Over the years Dr. Sife has also appeared on over two dozen radio and TV talk shows across the country, discussing pet loss depression, and answering listeners who called in with questions or comments. He is continually being interviewed and quoted on this subject, by different publications and media.
In 1992 Dr. Sife created and established a practical model for the stages of bereavement that are unique for pet loss – derived and modified from the stages created by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross for human loss. This has come to be considered the standard for all pet bereavement counseling. He continues to publish innovative articles and essays on this. His books, classes, APLB essays, newsletters and conferences are the original media anywhere for propagating this kind of help, information and public education.
In 2014 Dr. Sife developed a completely new way for pet owners to look at life and death. That surveys recent discoveries in cosmology, including the universe’s many energies, and synthesizes it all into a new perspective for theological skeptics and those who don’t believe in an afterlife. He wrote this up and included it in the fourth edition of The Loss of a Pet. And now he has developed that theme into a major scientific dissertation, “What is life and death?”