In 1987, Wallace Sife, Ph.D. suddenly lost his beloved seven-year-old miniature dachshund, Edel Meister, to congestive heart failure. His own extensive training as a psychologist did not offer any immediate insights, and he suffered greatly. He turned to the only three books that were then in print on this subject. He felt disappointed that they did not adequately address the emotional issues that needed to be considered.
At that time the recognition of pet bereavement was a newly emerging social phenomenon. Sife felt that those few early publications were focused on proving that the subject was a valid one, and did not help the individual bereaver through the grief process.
As a loving memorial he wrote The Loss of a Pet, and dedicated it to Edel and “all his soul mates who were beloved, and the good people who mourn our common loss”. Dr. Sife remarked, “This is the book I would have wanted for myself. And my unanticipated new orientation in life was part of his legacy to me.” The Loss of a Pet , 1993, won awards and solid reviews. It was reprinted three additional times, to its current and final 4th edition.
In October, 1997 he founded the APLB. First few meetings were held in private homes, and then in a library basement on Long Island, NY. Later, in June, 1998, he created our website and in 1999, we became a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.
Dr. Sife started our first three-hour chat rooms on Friday nights (New York time). He shared that for the first few weeks he was frequently alone, playing computer games to keep himself engaged. Within six months, a second chat room was created on Wednesday nights, quickly followed by a third one on Sunday afternoons. Three additional ones followed to accommodate s also European, Pacific, and Asian countries.
There was a universal need for help and supportiveness during pet loss, and APLB was created to serve it. In addition to the thousands who benefited from the chat rooms, Dr. Sife counseled bereavers individually, at no charge, via email and telephone. “We are all in the same lifeboat, together. And now we are all here for each other” was often heard.
APLB membership is diversified and integrates individuals in bereavement, counselors, veterinarians and their technicians, and many others from all backgrounds and professions who are keenly interested in supporting our efforts.
We publish a quarterly newsletter on relevant pet loss and bereavement topics. Every new edition introduces important issues and fresh viewpoints, which are helpful to anyone involved in this subject.
Dr. Sife often reminded members that what we have achieved together is a proud monument to all our beloved pets – living, as well as deceased. “We are better people, individually and collectively, because of them.” They have bequeathed to us a new sense of dedication and personal incentive. Here, we honor them and ourselves.
Dr. Wallace Sife: The Founder of the APLB
Dr. Wallace Sife was a Korean War veteran, of which he was immensely proud. He completed a BA and MA degrees in English and Education at Brooklyn College, an MA and Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from New York University, and another Ph.D. in Trans Cognitive Psychology and Speed Reading from the Union Institute in Cincinnati. He is the author of numerous books on widely varied subjects.
In response to Dr. Sife’s loss of his beloved dachshund, Edel Meister, in 1987, he wrote the award-winning The Loss of a Pet, which won the Maxwell award of the Dog Writers of America, and was cited as the best book on pets, for that year – it is in its fourth edition. His work is regularly cited in works on Pet Loss and Grief.
In 1992 Dr. Sife created and established a practical model for the stages of bereavement that were unique for pet loss – derived and modified from the stages created by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross for human loss. This model is still used today by many.
APLB was formed as a non-profit in 1999. Together with a group of dedicated volunteers, they implemented, in the then, newly emerging field of pet loss and bereavement:
- One of the first free on-line Chat Rooms for bereaved pet parents held 6 times per week;
- Designed & implemented a unique internship program of instruction in on-line chats, providing trainees with free specialized instruction and supervised fieldwork;
- Designed, developed and implemented a ten-hour training program, providing continuing education credits, certified by NASW and the AAVSB, and delivered at the end of 8 APLB biennial conferences;
- It became a 5-week online training program, Pet Loss Grief Counselor, offered twice annually
- Developed a working model for Pet Loss Support Groups, providing free training and support to those interested in starting their own
Dr. Sife died in Brooklyn, New York, on April 8, 2020, from complications arising from the COVID19 virus. His pioneering efforts and contribution to the field of pet loss and grief support are invaluable. His desire was to leave an enduring legacy – one that would grow and remain a primary source of comfort and support to grieving pet parents and professionals in what has become a recognized field in its own right.
A favorite quote of his was, “We are all in the same lifeboat, together. And now we are all here for each other.”
Publications by Wallace Sife, Ph.D.
- Speedreading, Self-Taught, Self-Published: 1976
- Parallel Processing: Using the Whole Brain During Speed Reading and Spontaneous Sight Reading of Music: A Model of Bicameral Integration, Self-Published: 1977
- Self-Liberation from Test Anxiety (tape & record), Folkways: 1980
- Deep Relaxation, (tape), Self-published: 1984
- Extended Deep Relaxation, (tape), Self-published: 1990
- Modern Rubaiyat, Bristol Banner Books, Bristol, IN: 1991
- The Loss of a Pet, Howell Book House, New York: 1993.
- The Loss of a Pet: New Revised and Expanded, Howell Book House, New York: 1998.
- Stroke: Enhancing Quality of Life, Editor, Haworth Press, Binghamton, NY: 1998
- Translated to Italian: 2001
- The Loss of a Pet: Third Edition. Howell Book House, New York: 2005.
- The Loss of a Pet: Fourth Edition. Turner Publishers: New York: 2014.
- Translated to Hungarian, 2016
- Tales From the Sea Horse, Dog Ear Publications, Indianapolis, IN: 2016
- Modern Rubaiyat, Second Edition, Dog Ear Publications, Indianapolis, IN: 2016
Between 1998 and 2019 there were 89 individual essays by Dr. Sife on various aspects of pet loss and bereavement. New ones appeared in each quarterly edition of the newsletter of the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement: www.aplb.org
Creatures of the Universe: What is Life and Death?: A New Outlook and Synthesis of Interdisciplinary Sciences (6,870 words) Self published © Copyright 2016, Dr. Wallace Sife / ©Amended: Copyright 2019, Dr. Wallace Sife
2019 The Devil’s Mother Goose Self-Published