“Cherished: 21 Writers on Animals They Have Love and Lost”

Edited by Barbara Abercrombie. New World Library. $14.95.

Anyone who has ever owned a pet no matter what the species knows how it can provide that needed psychological relief valve through our valley of angst from death to divorce, from injury to instability.

For Abercrombie, “Cherished” was inspired by a veterinarian who thought an anthology of pieces about the love and loss of an animal would serve as an inspirational tool for those suffering from the loss of their pet and how they could find deeper meaning in that special relationship of a decade or more.

As Abercrombie emphasizes in the Introduction, “Grieving for an animal can be a pretty lonely place.”

And later, “Here’s the thing about losing animals: They take a piece of your life with them when they die. They love the best in you, they share your days and nights, and then they’re gone and there’s a hole in your life – this vanished past they have taken with them.”

“Cherished” is accented with compassionate realism amidst a moving mix of priceless snapshots. Emotions run the full gamut, from anticipation and joy to grief and remembrance.

And the range of four-legged subjects is equally stretched, each vignette standing independently on its own legs, chock full of life’s lessons.