“May I be a protector for the protectorless, / A guide for those who travel on the road, / And, for those who wish to cross the water, / May I become a boat, a ship, or a bridge.”
Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life ~Shantideva
LAURA KING, BS, OC, PGRS-C
I am, first of all, a lover of creatures, companion and wild. I’m also the founder of Honoring Animals with Ceremony, a New York City-based practice dedicated to “celebrating and elevating the loving bonds formed between people and animals.”
Within my noveau niche—let’s call it Pet Ceremony Specialist—I create and perform uplifting personalized ceremonies to honor companion animals at times of transition, while reflecting the style, traditions, wishes and spiritual beliefs of their human families.
I am certified as a Life-Cycle Celebrant® through the esteemed Celebrant Foundation and Institute. I’ve elected to focus exclusively on animal occasions. To enhance my practice, I also obtained a certification through the American Institute of Healthcare Professionals/American Academy of Grief Counselors as a Pet Loss Grief Recovery Specialist, and took ordination as a non-denominational Ceremonial Officiant within the First Nation Church St. Valentine Ministry.
I found my passion to honor the interconnection of people and animals with ceremonial word and ritual by following a labyrinthine path. A sudden and compelling spiritual calling proclaimed the start of my journey … I fell in love with Buddhist teachings and ordained as a western Buddhist Nun. Soon after, I received an ambitious assignment that required me to leave behind a life I enjoyed in enchanting New Mexico, included my healthcare marketing agency. With my 12-year-old son Zachary, and Princesa, his confounded cat, I relocated our family to a 1940’s log house in the verdant woodlands of upstate New York. From there, I oversaw the final construction phases and opening of a magnificent Buddhist temple dedicated to world peace, and then served for six years as the Director of the international meditation and retreat center.
In 2013, I was elbowed again by my kind inner guide to cross another threshold into radical life change. This time, with a former nun’s minimal possessions and accompanied by only dog and cat companions, I crossed the George Washington Bridge into Manhattan, full arc of the journey unknown.
Sorrow interrupted my settling-in year, as death came calling for both my furry soulmates and then my father. I staggered through the days under a heavy cloak of bereavement and loneliness. I wondered, at times, if I would survive my heartbreak and the trials that came with returning to a “lay life” and assimilating alone into a frenetic megalopolis, but that was not accounting for the angels, seen and unseen.
I grew out my hair, learned by tedious mistakes to navigate the metro in the correct direction, eked out an income as a ghostwriter, and taught secular meditation in a subterranean coffee shop. I deeply missed Apollo and Princesa and being an animal mom, but I hesitated to adopt as my grief was still raw.
Then one day I chanced upon a tiny cream-colored ball of fluff curled alone on a stoop, only yards from the tumultuous traffic and clamor of Broadway. What choice did I have? I learned to bottle-feed a wee kitten, and about street cats. And, of course, I surrendered to love again, naming her Jema.
Cats in the City
A few months later, I discovered information online about a program in feral cat colony management and trap-neuter-return (TNR), which was offered by the ASPCA and Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals. With families of skinny, noisy, procreating kitties on every block in my neighborhood as incentive, I quickly signed up for certification. I began to manage local cat colonies with ongoing care, feeding, trap-neuter-return (TNR) and rescue services. I captured feral kittens, socialized and vetted them and found them “fur-ever” homes, along with many friendly adult cats.
[Meet my rescue cat of greatest renown in my educational adult coloring book that recounts his true and epic escape saga along the sidewalks of New York: Smokey from the Block.]
Through my cat lady endeavors and the connective power of social media, I met a plethora of incredible felines, canines and other creatures great and small. I also encountered many committed, courageous, compassionate people—rescue volunteers, guardians and advocates, health professionals, pet parents and passersby—who love animals dearly and hold tight to the tenant that all lives matter.
Honoring Animals with Ceremony
I am a humbled and privileged participant in and witness to the profound relationships that form, sometimes near-instantaneously, between humans and marvelous creatures of all sorts.
And so it is with gratitude and immense respect for that connection—which, as you know, may grow deeper than a loving bond between two people—that I offer my pet celebrant practice and supportive services.