The Healing Power of Animals

Adopt A Pet
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I've been meaning to write about this for a long time, but it always seems too big a subject to tackle in a single blog post.  And so it is.  But I'll touch on it, anyway, as an introduction of sorts to my next few posts.  In which I'll be writing about my animals: two old horses and a cat, and their incredible gifts.  I may even get into some of the animals from my past, too - I still carry their lessons with me today, and they'll always be a part of my story.

Why now?  Several things came together for me recently to finally motivate me to take on the GIANORMOUS subject of animal healing:

First; October is Adopt-A-Pet Month.  (It's still October, right?)

Then; while flipping through the Santa Barbara Independent's Annual Animal Issue, I came across an ad for "The Cutest Pet in Santa Barbara" Photo Contest.  Deadline was a few days off, why not take the photo-op to brag about my wonderful, healing, feline friend?  Game on!  Hundreds of the cutest photos of Truly later, I submitted my final (it was tough!) choice, along with her "cutest" story, to the paper for the contest.  But I realized that writing about her "cuteness" was merely scratching the surface of all there is to the Truly story, inspiring me to get to the rest of it!

Next; I'm due to start my 7th round of chemo next week. Chemo weeks always remind me of how powerful our connection to our animals really is: mine each mirror my pain in some way, reminding me that I'm not doing anything alone.  As it is every month: Truly is my on-call bed and couch-mate, cuddling with her mom for all the extra naptime; my horse Stevie tends to take a hit to his own health, clearly reflecting my distress; and Reggie, twelve hundred miles away in Colorado, causes my friend Jenny to call me up and ask, "You doing okay?  Is this a chemo week?  'Cause Reggie's really droopy today."   Yep, I've got a pair of horse-shaped pillars on either side of me and a cat purring on my lap - my own personal team of energy boosting, pain-absorbing, animal healers to pick me up when I'm down.

And finally; I received the following email from one of my greatest animal healing (human!) friends, who lives entirely too far away in Switzerland.  Warning: get out the tissue!

I RESCUED A HUMAN TODAY*
                
Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels.  I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.  I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.
        
As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage.  I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.
        
As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past.  I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life.
        
She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me.  I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her. Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship.
        
 A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well. Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.  I would promise to keep her safe.  I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.  I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor.  So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors.  So many more to be saved.  At least I could save one.
        
I rescued a human today.

May you be blessed enough to be rescued by an animal in your lifetime.  If you have already, I welcome your stories in the comments. 

*Written by Janine Allen CPDT, Rescue Me Dog's professional dog trainer. Janine's passion is working with people and their dogs. She provides demonstrations for those who have adopted shelter dogs, lends email support to adopted dog owners that need information beyond our Training Support Pages, and aids shelter staff and volunteers in understanding dog behavior to increase their adoptability. Copyright 2010 Rescue Me Dog; www.rescuemedog.org.

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