My husband Bill and I just returned from Las Vegas, NV where we attended pre-conference certification courses available through the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories (IAOPCC).

In my past business lives, I can’t remember ever returning home from a conference feeling this engaged and sure of what I’m doing. It was inspiring to be with a group of people who (like me) have devoted their working lives to making the after-care experience a positive one for pet parents, and who were so kind and helpful.

This was particularly true of the group from Australia. Yes! Australia! At least one person from Pets in Peace – Australia approached me after each seminar to say that they shared a concern I raised, and that my current experience as a new pet funeral director is one they once went through, and/or to tell me about a memorial idea that is popular in Australia and that might work for the Pacific Northwest.

The folks from New Jersey made an impression, too. Multiple NJ cremation services were represented, and while they are competitors they’re also members of the same professional community and so they check in on each other and are congenial. (NJ is an enormous market. For example, the gal I sat next to is a sales rep for a pet cremation provider that serves 700 veterinary clinics.)

A pet funeral director from Memphis, TN allowed me to engage her in conversation about problems with the Memphis Humane Society (I used to live in Memphis) and also the three cats she’s trying to find homes for that belonged to a client who is now in a nursing home. She’s been in business over 20 years, and the fact that she would take the time to share her stories and struggles with me — a newbie — revealed her huge heart and open mind.

As soon as the certificates arrive in the mail, I will be able to use the IAOPCC designations Registered Pet Funeral Director (RPFD), Certified Pet Crematory Operator (CPCO), and Pet Bereavement Specialist (PBS). The full-day seminar on Pet Bereavement was especially valuable, and I’ll be using information from all three courses, as well as conversations with other attendees, to develop future blogs. I hope these future blogs will be as interesting and helpful to you as the last few days were for me.