Though she says she does all she can to support the animal holistically, she acknowledges the outcome is ultimately out of her hands.
“They’re hoping I can pull a rabbit out of a hat and change the situation,” she says. “That’s not in my control. If something is supposed to happen, it will.”
Sternberger started her business about six years ago, feeling it was work that could fulfill her for the rest of her life.
Though she had always felt a special connection with animals throughout her life, it wasn’t until her dog Gandalf died of cancer that Sternberger realized she wanted to do more to help animals.
In 2001, Sternberger trained to do reiki, a form of energy work. She then went on to study Health Touch for Animals, earning her certification in 2006 after three years of classes, mentoring and conducting case studies. She was later certified in Healing Touch for People.
In her practice, Sternberger works with mostly cats and dogs. But she’s also worked with horses, birds, rabbits and wildlife that’s been injured.
“Believe it or not the animals know that there’s energy work here, so they’ll come and they’ll be on the edge (of the trees near the office), and I’ll just send them energy work,” Sternberger says.
To send the energy, Sternberger says she centers and grounds herself, then gently raises her hands to allow the energy to flow.
“It’s interesting what shows up,” she says. “I’ve got snakes that are here, frogs, hummingbirds. They all seem to sense the energy.”
Sternberger does not typically make house calls, except for the larger animals like horses, but she doesn’t have to have the animal present to do energy work.
“The distance work is hard for people (to understand),” she says, explaining that it operates like a cell phone. To receive a call, the phone must be on.
“The same holds true for the recipient of the remote healing,” she says. “I receive permission to enter the animal’s energy field and then I essentially become the cell tower and send the energy to the animal.”
Clients not only come to Sternberger for her energy work; they also come for her advice.
“I love to educate the owner on tips … they can do at home to make things easier,” Sternberger says.
Cecilia Grimm of Baltimore County brought one-year-old Freya to Sternberger when traditional treatments failed to cure the American bulldog of demodectic mange.
“I had started going the traditional route and she got worse, so I started seeing a homeopath and she recommended getting energy work, so I found Shari,” Grimm recalled. “There’s a pretty small community of holistic animal healers in the Maryland area, so they all know each other.”
Grimm started seeing Sternberger in February, and the combination of traditional treatments along with essential oils and energy work have helped heal Freya.
“She did basic energy work with her, which was quite effective because … her skin was so sensitive,” Grimm says. “It really soothed her.”
Though Grimm says Freya has recovered, she still sees Sternberger.
“Now it’s just kind of like maintaining the health and making sure her immune system doesn’t dip again, since she’s sensitive to things,” Grimm says.