Hi! I’m Linda. I’ve always loved animals. (When I was 3 years old, my sister and I would rescue abandoned stuffed animals from the thrift store in my hometown in Minnesota!) I’m also a clinical psychologist. I owned my own practice in Chicago along with my husband, Dr. Mario Gallo, for 33 years before I shifted my focus to offering workshops for animal lovers full time. My greatest joy is combining these two passions to help animal lovers like you navigate the challenges of caring for and working with animals. I’m really looking forward to hearing from you!
Over the years, my husband, Mario, and I have had a furry family of dogs and cats of all ages, sizes and “issues.” My pet walker affectionately calls our home “the land of misfits.” You’ve already met one of them on my homepage: Chilidog!
He was a senior dachshund I adopted, and he was my therapy assistant for almost 5 years. The lessons I learned from him are the foundation for the guide I developed to help animal lovers refresh their compassionate hearts.
I thought that losing Chilidog would bring me inconsolable grief. Instead, I’ve experienced unexpected joy, gratitude and awe, because our bond continues to have a loving influence on my life and the lives of many other people and animals.
Another “misfit” was a senior cat name Belle, who I was fostering. She needed medication a few times a day, so I would bring her to the office with me. When Belle meowed loudly one day, a client invited her into our session. With Belle on her lap, my client began to sort out memories that she had not previously shared in our year of meeting. Insights she gained with Belle seemed to free her from her past and set her on a new life path. From that day on, my practice included at least one animal therapy assistant.
Millee, me, Chilidog and Milo
I founded Blessed Bonds, a nonprofit rescue organization, in 2004. It provides temporary foster care for dogs and cats whose owners are in crisis so the pets can eventually return to their families. It was a dream realized, but during my seven years as director, I became completely depleted. When I stepped out of that role, the program found a home with a well-established animal shelter.
At first, stepping down felt like a failure, and I worried that I was letting the animals down. But the gift in that loss is that I now understand firsthand the roller coaster of emotions that comes when we follow our passion to help animals.
BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL SANCTUARY & RETREATS
In 2001, after attending a couple of workshops at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah, I became involved with their efforts to help animal lovers cope with the compassion fatigue, burnout and grief that come with working with animals. Animal lovers found my book Give to your Heart's Content...without giving yourself away helpful, and I began giving talks, workshops and retreats for animal organizations and advocates.
CHICAGO VET PET LOSS SUPPORT
For more than 15 years, I’ve facilitated a pet-grief support group through the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association and helped train professionals to work the Pet Loss Hotline. It continues to meet through Zoom. Support-group participants often come because they don’t feel like people outside the group understand their grief. They cringe when they hear, “It's just an animal" and “Aren't you over that yet?"
I understand how animal lovers feel, so I guide you through finding your own ways to work through your grief so that the joyful feeling of your loving bond can help to outweigh the pain.
IN-PERSON PALOS PARK
Do you have a personal challenge that you would like to address in a private consultation? I would be happy to explore it with you. If you are in the Chicago area, please call 708.227.5330 to schedule a session or 2-hour workshop with me in my restorative space in Palos Park. A Zoom workshop that is customized to meet your unique challenge is also available. All one-hour sessions* are $100.00 and 2-hour workshops are $200.00.
* These sessions are not insurance-reimbursable psychotherapy sessions; there is no medical diagnosis given. Individuals looking for traditional insurance-reimbursed counseling/psychotherapy with a medical diagnosis are advised to call the phone number on their insurance card to get referrals to professionals who are in their insurance company network.
WEBINARS, RECORDINGS & BOOKS
My greatest teachers have been the people and animals I’ve worked with during my 37years as a clinical psychologist. I’ve written two books to help people and animal lovers who live with compassionate hearts and developed a webinar for The Pet Professionals Guild.
The Power of Joy in Giving to Animals, with foreword and contributions by Faith Maloney of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (2014)
PAST LIVE SEMINARS, TALKS & WORKSHOPS
Refresh Your Compassionate Heart: Taking Care of You and Your Team to help More Animals
Los Angeles, CA, 2019
Edinburg, TX, 2019
Chicago, IL, 2019 (Part of the Well-being Retreat for the Chicago Veterinary Medical Association)
Essential Tools to Empower Every Compassionate Heart for Animals
Lafayette, IN, 2017
What Animals Teach Us About Joy
Touched by an Animal Fundraiser, Skokie, IL, 2016
The Center in Palos Park, IL, 2016
Chicago Family Pet Show, Darien and Oak Lawn, IL, 2015
Breaking Down Bridges: How can we work together to help more animals?
MENAW Conference, Cairo, Egypt, 2010, 2017
Animals Today, Palm Desert, CA, 2016
A Joyful Giving Heart: Making your difference in the lives of animals
Unity Church Animal Ministry, Oak Park, IL, 2015
Hearts Larger than Hands: Creating balance in your life to save more animals
Best Friends National Conference, 2002-present
A Sound Beginning Dog Training, 2016
New Jersey Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey, 2014
DASA (DuPage Animal Shelter Association), Wheaton, IL, 2011
Good as Gold Rescue Conference, Chicago, 2011
MENAW conference, Cairo, Egypt, 2010
Illinois Animal Welfare Federation 2008
Retreats at Best Friends Animal Society, Kanab, Utah
The Giving Heart Retreat: Nurturing the animal lover’s soul, annually 2006-2016
Above and Beyond: Facing the challenges of animals with special needs, annually 2014-2016
Asia for Animals, Bali, Indonesia, 2008
No Kill Canada Conference, Windsor, Canada, 2004
CHAMP Conference for Homeless Animal Management Programs, Las Vegas, 2004