By David Bagdon, Publisher
Shrewsbury – Most high school students have difficulty finding a career focus as they prepare to enter college. This was not the case, however, for Shrewsbury resident Monica Mansfield. From an early age, she knew with great clarity that she wanted to become a veterinarian.
“I knew from the time I was a young girl that I had a special affinity for animals,” she said. “I have very early memories of my mother bringing me to see animals at a petting zoo, as if she knew. I acquired animal encyclopedias as gifts that I would read and re-read. I’d watch wildlife television programs and devoured the James Herriot books. The desire to be a veterinarian was one of my driving forces growing up. To this day, I remain so grateful that it became my life's work.”
After receiving her undergraduate education at Virginia Tech and her veterinary degree from Cornell University, Mansfield worked at several clinics first in New Hampshire then, following a move to Massachusetts, in Auburn and ultimately, to Medway. As she progressed in her career, Mansfield developed an acute interest in the bond between pet owner and their pets.
“This topic is close to my heart because I believe that nurturing children and animals are two of the most important roles we can have.”
It was this focus that brought her to write “When You Have to Say Goodbye, Loving and Letting Go of Your Pet.” The book was written to help families teach children about the loss of a pet, and the difficult decision to euthanize a pet in failing health.
“I knew this book could be an important teaching tool,” she said. “Often, the loss of a pet is a child's first grief experience and the lessons learned can help prepare them for future grief experiences. I like to view the book as a tool to facilitate discussion because in many cases, parents will also be grieving the loss. I was honored to put these emotions on paper.”
When it came time to select an illustrator who would convey the book's message appropriately, Mansfield was given the opportunity to recommend her own candidate. Ultimately, Worcester native Lennie Peterson was selected. According to Mansfield, he was the perfect choice.
“I'se known Lennie for many years, and he is a very talented and sensitive artist. While working on the book, he was careful to capture the tender relationship between a child and his pet. Throughout the book, he used a recurring illustration of a red ball to symbolize the love between the child and pet.”
According to Mansfield, the topic of pet loss is fairly universal because nearly everyone has, or will deal with it at some point. Ultimately, she hopes that the book will be distributed through veterinary offices throughout the country, but she also sees a need for it locally.
“This topic is a common one for vets but not for the average family. I hope that people will find the book to be a valuable tool during a difficult time.”
Both Mansfield and illustrator Lennie Peterson will be conducting a signing event at Tatnuck Bookseller Saturday, Dec. 17, from 1 to 3 p.m. Tatnuck Bookseller is located in the Westborough Shopping Center at the junction of Route 9 and Lyman Street in Westborough.