Book Review: Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Losing a Pet by Gary Kowalski

Last week, my ten-year-old shiba inu dog, Ryder, unexpectedly passed away. My grief was raw and unmanageable, as this amazing creature stood by my side, offering unconditional love and support 24/7. My other half, equally as impacted, purchased a few books to try to help us understand how to find any solace or ability to move forward, as Ryder was part of every moment of our day. I picked up a paperback copy of Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet by Gary Kowalski as the first one to read this week.


The author is a minister who approaches the loss of a pet from a spiritual perspective, but the book is carefully balanced to not be excessively religious. I bring this up, not in a good/bad way, only to point out that if you are a religious person, you’ll find helpful content, but if you’re not a religious person, you will also find many chapters focused on the emotions of the grieving process. It’s essentially a good read for anyone — without pushing any one belief or philosophy.

The author’s tone is charismatic. He shares personal stories of his own pets, those of friends and others from his congregation. He quotes verses from works of literature and various religious tomes, including outside of Christianity. All-in-all, it provides strong perspective on what’s happening in your mind and in the animal’s mind during the final days of losing your beloved pet. When he spoke of the euthanasia process, or the inexplicable appearance of pets that had previously passed on, you will shed a tear for a minute thinking about your own experiences. In these moments, I connected with the book. In others, where it was more generic, it seemed like things I already knew; then again, the reminders can provide subtle help we’re not even aware of.

It felt like the kind of book not to read all in one sitting, as there are poems and stories you can read separate from the advice and guidance he provides. There are links to other articles or books that could help you. It’s a good, basic approach to beginning to understand your grief and determine how to step forward. If you’re looking for something deeply analytical, thoroughly psychological or lengthy stories about beloved pets, this wouldn’t be the right book to read for that purpose. But I am glad I read it, as it did push me to think differently in a few areas of my mind. I’m grateful for that help.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
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  1. I’m so sorry for the loss of your pet. My dog is 13 and I’ve been giving her extra love, since I don’t know how much time we have left. I may have to keep these books in mind when the time comes. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, the books can help. So do people. Being able to share Ryder with everyone thru my blog, and then all the friends and folks who reached out to me all week have been essential. Make sure you have that in the future! Extra love is perfect… I wish you well. Thank you for stopping by today.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds like a really nice book and I loved your review. I must recommend Bernard Jan’s book “A World Without Color.” It’s basically an accounting of what he went through with his cat Marcel and how they had to let him go. Very sad, but worth the read and not super long and drawn out. ❤ Take Care, J.

    Liked by 1 person

    • W bought them, so they were here. I thought it would be good to give it a try. Thank you for being so considerate over it. We have one other here, but I’m purposely waiting a couple of weeks when I feel like I’ll be hit with a wave of loss again.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I can empathize with you, James, though my memories are much older. I lost my Fala, a shiny black 6 year old Scottish Terrier when I was 8 years old. What I felt as a child may or may not be similar to what you’re experiencing now, except that I, too, grieved. So much so, I have not had another pet of my own since. I didn’t want to deal with another death. Something you are going through has opened up my feelings and made me see that this one thing I suppressed my entire lifetime. I am wishing strongly that you will move through your loss day by day and have no fear of having another pet once the memory of Ryder has taken its place in your consciousness. Doesn’t mean you need to get another pet now or ever. I just wish with all my might that your sorrows will heal soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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