In 2009, Micky Golden Moore started a pet-loss support group called Beyond the Paw Print.

In 2009, Micky Golden Moore started a pet-loss support group called Beyond the Paw Print.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Resident starts support group, writes book for those grieving the loss of a pet

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published December 15, 2020

 The loss of two of her cats, Pablo and Nellie, helped lead local resident Micky Golden Moore to launch a pet-loss support group.

The loss of two of her cats, Pablo and Nellie, helped lead local resident Micky Golden Moore to launch a pet-loss support group.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 After starting a pet-loss support group, local resident Micky Golden Moore went on to write a self-published book titled, “Tails from Beyond the Paw Print: Twenty-Two Stories of Love, Loss, and Lessons Learned from our Adored Animal Companions.”

After starting a pet-loss support group, local resident Micky Golden Moore went on to write a self-published book titled, “Tails from Beyond the Paw Print: Twenty-Two Stories of Love, Loss, and Lessons Learned from our Adored Animal Companions.”

Photo by Deb Jacques

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — In the latter part of 2002 and into early 2003, there were some rough periods in the life of local resident and West Bloomfield High School graduate Micky Golden Moore.

Her father had entered hospice care in November 2002, and both she and other family members were “frightened” and “worried.”

During his time in hospice, Moore’s father received visits from a rabbi from the Jewish Chaplaincy Network.

Those visits brought “tremendous comfort and solace” to Moore and her family members and were so impactful that it encouraged her to want to become a chaplain herself.

Moore shared the new direction she wanted for her life with her father prior to his death in February 2003.

She put her aspiration on hold for a while before entering a graduate program in hospice and bereavement study at Madonna University in 2007.

Already having earned a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in speech communication and working as a university instructor for approximately 30 years, Moore graduated from Madonna with a second master’s degree in 2009, eventually securing employment as a hospital chaplain.

However, Moore’s study of bereavement also took her in another direction she hadn’t previously expected.

In 2008, two of her cats, Nellie and Pablo, died within a month of each other.

In the midst of her grieving process, Moore made a call to one of her professors at Madonna.

“I called my professor, and I say, ‘It happened again,’” Moore said. “I said, ‘I just don’t know how I can get through this.’ She said, ‘I do. You’re going to start to research pet-loss grief.’”

Moore went about doing just that, and her grief eventually helped others get through their own mourning processes.

In March of 2009, she launched a pet grief support group called Beyond the Paw Print.

The group has continued since, with the meetings taking place on a monthly basis and lasting approximately two hours.

Moore limits attendees to 12 per meeting to give all the participants proper “time to share.”

The cost-free meetings were previously held at a church, but they have been taking place via Zoom during the pandemic.

Moore discussed the origin of the support group’s name.

“We get a paw print from our vet with every euthanasia,” she said. “They put their paw print into clay, and along with our bill, we get this beautiful paw print, and most of the techs write the name of your pet on there. But beyond the paw print, where is the support? Where is the validation? Where is the acknowledgement? … That’s how it was born.”

Livonia resident Jacquelyn Anastos learned of Moore’s support group after losing her dog Sonny in 2017.

She said she was “surprised” such a group existed.

Anastos subsequently lost another dog, Milo, and said the group has been “helpful for me.”

“I’m very happy I found it,” Anastos said. “I’m kind of not the type that likes to talk in front of groups, but (it) makes you very comfortable because it’s common ground. Everybody listens. … You can speak freely and cry if you need to cry. … It’s very comforting and makes you look forward to being there.”

Earlier this year, Moore also released a self-published book titled “Tails from Beyond the Paw Print: Twenty-Two Stories of Love, Loss, and Lessons Learned from our Adored Animal Companions.”

She said several hundred copies have been sold.

“From the very first meeting March 9, 2009, when I heard these people share their stories of love, loss, and the lessons they learned along the way, I said, I don’t know when or how, but I’m writing a book,” Moore said. “I have to share these messages with people outside the Beyond the Paw Print community who don’t understand the love we share with our animals and don’t understand pet-loss grief. … I want them to have a better understanding.”

Despite how painful the loss of a pet is for many, grieving over the death of an animal is not something everybody understands.

“The reason I started the group is very simple, and the reason I wrote the book,” Moore said. “I wanted people to know, No. 1, their grief is real; No. 2, they’re not crazy; No. 3, support is available.”

The isolation many have experienced during the pandemic can make the loss of a pet even harder to come to terms with.

“When our pets die in the midst of a pandemic, our grief is further deepened because then that one, living, breathing creature that was our constant companion is now gone,” Moore said. “To stay safe, we aren’t seeing our moms dads, grandma, grandpas, for example, for their safety and for ours. And then you take away that animal that was our constant companion, comforter and cuddler — you’re compounding and further deepening our sense of isolation. … It affects our mental health and wellbeing. We need to have companionship, and our animals have provided that in the most wonderful way in this pandemic.”

Despite not being specifically related to the loss of a pet, Moore’s training as a hospital chaplain has turned out to serve a dual purpose.

“That training has made me a far better human being and a far better listener for anyone who is coming to me about any form of loss that they are experiencing,” she said. “It’s important to meet grieving people where they are. That’s what I do in my training as a chaplain in the hospital, and that’s what I do with people who call me who are mourning the death of their pet.”

For more information about Moore’s support group and her book, visit beyondthepawprint.com.

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