The Spiritual Nature of Animals

Vets in rural practice face especially difficult illnesses, physical conditions, and emotional trials. Their work environment is not that of dog-and-cat vets who see their “patients” in sterile urban offices. Dr. Karlene Stange embraced these difficulties because her work led her to spiritual awareness and even bliss, despite the inevitable losses and horrors. She found that her experience was described in Jungian psychology: animals led her to her anima, her true inner self and what in Latin means “soul,” “breath,” and “life itself.” Case examples from her practice illustrate Stange’s journey to understand the spiritual nature of the animal-human bond. This led her to Buddhist, Christian, Sufi, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, and pagan teachings. Her evolved understanding offers readers a unique interpretation of our love for animals, a compelling tour of spiritual traditions, and, ultimately, a healing and joyful engagement with the creatures with whom we share our planet.

“All too often, humans have difficulty understanding the spiritual component of animals. Based on twenty years of research, Dr. Karlene Stange shares wisdom from many cultures and from the creatures themselves to help us better understand. Everyone who cares about animals will benefit from this book.” — Huisheng Xie, DVM, PhD, founder and dean of the Chi Institute of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (

“Dr. Karlene Stange weaves a heartwarming web composed of her personal experiences as a veterinarian caring for all our kindred spirits along with insights from ancient wisdom traditions and perspectives on our boundless interconnectedness with all beings. As a veterinarian who has shared my own journey of awakening through caring for our animal friends, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Stange’s story and know that it will benefit countless beings! Allow it to touch your heart and spirit, and enjoy!” — Allen M. Schoen, DVM, MS, PhD (hon.), author of Kindred Spirits

“In her book, Karlene Stange addresses some of the hardest questions veterinarians face and does so with a fascinating and surprisingly seamless blend of science/medicine, spirituality, and personal experience. She gives us the kernels of truth about the spirit, or anima, of animals from the perspective of each major religion and distills these into a very practical philosophy that I think is summed up in the last paragraph of her book: ‘We must be grateful for the service and friendship animals provide, and celebrate their lives, honor loving memories, and have no regrets.’ This book is well researched and passionate and comes straight from the heart of someone who loves animals and has committed her life to their health and well-being.”

— Susan J. Tornquist, DVM, MS, PhD, Dip ACVP, Lois Bates Acheson Dean, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University

Book Reviews

“I am beginning to read it now and savoring the stories and wisdom Karlene Stange brings to her readers. I’m planning to recommend her book to the …Bookshop and to book groups.”
“It is with great pleasure that I recommend this book. This book is a guide to our spirituality as well as to our dear companions and all animals. It is comparative religion and spirituality guide that I will read over and over.”
– Dr. Stephanie Dodge
“…finished the book you represent, The Spiritual Nature of Animals, and loved reading it during this challenging medical time. He said it put him in touch with a whole different level of thinking which he found very uplifting. Last night at dinner when we looked through the window and saw deer eating the grass beyond our house, he said “I look at deer differently now.” In the past, we’ve chased them away because they eat so many variety of plants we try to grow. Now we just let them be, and plant vegetables and flowers in our fenced garden…”
With this comprehensive and compassionate volume, Stange has given readers a book like no other, and one that could well become the definitive examination of the subject. Stange’s combination of academic analysis and tales about animals she treated makes her book a fascinating and warm-hearted read.
– Best Friends Magazine
May/June 2018

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