Volume 1, Issue 3

This is the third issue of The Animal Talker and I want to thank all of you who have taken the time to write or call to say how much you are enjoying it. It’s been a fun way for me to connect with you and also share stories with you about some of my many wonderful animal clients. With the longer days upon us, I wish you all many extra hours of wagging tales, purring greetings and the soft sounds of nickering horses.

This Month

Four Legged Mentors
Animal Communication Tip: When Are You Coming Back?
Leila Finds Home
Client Profile: Blue Kitty

For many of us, our animal companions are no less important in our family than the human members. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are celebrated in May and June, so I thought the following story was particularly appropriate.

Four Legged Mentors

Polly Klein and Dobby

One sunny afternoon about ten years ago as I pulled into the driveway of our Seattle home, I heard the unmistakable retching noise of my Bernese Mountain Dog, Alex, throwing up in the back of my station wagon. It’s a helpless feeling, knowing you are a few feet away from averting a disgusting mess, but unable to do anything about it.

After getting Alex out of the car, I immediately set about the task of cleaning up after him. I pulled out the bucket and hose, grabbed a stack of old towels and rolled up my sleeves. At the time, we lived next door to two children. Christopher, the youngest, was about four. He saw the tools of car washing, which he loved to help me with and dashed over to me.

“What are you doing?” he asked with the clear anticipation of being covered in water and suds imminently.

I said, “Alex threw up in the car and I’m cleaning it up.”

Christopher promptly recoiled and said, “That’s gross”. Kay, his mother, who by this time had joined us in the driveway said, “That’s part of taking care of a dog Chris.” Christopher, who was still not deterred from being grossed out, went off to do something else.

As I muttered to myself assessing the newly presented dog kibble and salvia oozing across the floor of my car, Kay said, “By the time you have kids, you will be so much more prepared than most people.” At the time it barely registered what she was getting at, but now that I am a mother I’m appreciating that comment more and more. Babies do an extraordinary amount of icky things and you just don’t have the luxury of saying, “I’m out of here.” Without thinking, you just roll up your sleeves and do what is required.

I think my beloved animal family members have taught me many more things that will hopefully make me a better parent. One of my most important teachers was my Great Dane, Jadzia. Snotty Jaddy, as I often called her, had a short life due to having inflammatory bowel disease. Because of this illness, she was never able to absorb the nutrients she needed out of her food, making both her body and brain develop poorly. While I would love to say I was calm and compassionate with her, the truth is she was the bane of my existence while she lived with me. She destroyed furniture, plants, clothing and prized stuffed animals. She was incapable of holding her urine for more than three hours, meaning that I needed to return home frequently if she was alone to let her out. Due to the pain in her GI tract, she often refused food unless hand fed. To top it all off, she was completely in love with my husband and had no interest in listening to me at all, even though I was the one who worked with her daily on obedience.

Despite her utter lack of devotion to me, in the 20 odd months she was alive, my life revolved around her and her needs. I was on her schedule; I spent many hours dragging her from one vet to another, hoping to find a way to heal her body. I had given my life over to her and I was stressed out all the time. In the short intervals when she was left at home, I never knew what I would return to. Would she have broken out of yet another kennel, covered in pee and munched on the dresser draw knobs? Would she have eaten a plant or some other mystery item and then thrown it up in a pile on the carpet? These thoughts constantly plagued me as I turned the key in the front door each time I returned.

When her body had finally had enough and I assisted her in letting go, I couldn’t help thinking to myself, “What was all this about? Why in the world did this being come into my life?” I’d already completed the “Life is Unfair” lesson and just couldn’t make sense of what purpose there could have been for the previous two years of my life with the monster puppy.

It took several months of pondering for me to realize the answers to these questions. Jadzia had taught me the importance in two things, balance and quality of life. I had allowed my life to get entirely out of balance as I cared for her. My needs did not matter as much as Jadzia’s and I had allowed her needs to completely surpass my own 100% of the time. I was unable to do anything to refuel my batteries and in the end that only created resentment towards a creature who really couldn’t do any better. Jaddy lesson one—“Put the oxygen mask on yourself first and then assist your children, because if you stop breathing, no one will be able to help them.”

The second thing Jadzia helped me understand was about the whole meaning of quality of life. Prior to living with Jadzia, I would have told you that the only thing that mattered in the quality of life equation was on the part of the animal. Certainly there are times when I feel it is important to give up things I want to do in order to care for another. But, with Jadzia, I wasn’t even having a bare bones quality to life myself. As I thought more about it, I began to understand that we live in relationships and the relationships need to sustain all parties or they don’t work. It’s okay to say, “I need things to be different than they are” without a sense of guilt. Jaddy lesson two—“I deserve at least a fair quality of life just as much as anyone else and someone else’s needs do not always takes precedence over my own.”

As I parent, I keep these lessons in mind. I need to have my own life in some version of balance, however tenuous that feels at times, or I’m incapable of being the type of person I want to be as a parent. Also, I now know to make sure some of my needs get met in the weekly schedule or I will feel resentful toward my daughter. Taking care of myself makes me a better parent.

Not all the edifications my animals have shared with me have been negative. Watching any number of my cats pounce and play with utter abandonment amidst a filthy house, dust and fur piles flying everywhere in their wake, reminds me that you can have fun, no matter where you are.

My Australian Shepherd, Zoe, spent a few months being significantly overweight. Not once did I see her moping about saying, “I couldn’t possibly play Frisbee looking like this!” She just went about being Zoe regardless of the package she lived in.

It’s true what I was told before my daughter, Melissa, arrived. My animal family doesn’t get the same amount attention it once did pre human baby. However, my furry friends have taught me well and at least intellectually I can understand that in the long run we will all be okay. We will all live together and play together and get annoyed with each other and forgive each other and we will all keep plugging along and figuring it out. And that’s how I know they have helped me to be a better parent.

If you have a question you would like to see addressed in an article, please send it to Polly Klein at paws@tonglenhealingarts.com.

Animal Communication Tip: When Are You Coming Back?

For many of our animals, the most difficult part of us being apart from them is that they really have no idea we will be returning. I’ve mentioned this tip before in articles I’ve written for MSN Dog Central and Puget Sound Pet, but as we get into the vacation season I think it bears repeating.

The next time you need to leave your animal try these simple steps to let them know when they will see you again:

First, picture the sun arcing across the sky, setting, and then rising again. Second, say out loud or think to the animal the number of these day to night cycles they will see while you are gone.

Third, imagine a picture of your animal resting calmly in the house without you and/or enjoying time with the person who will care for them while you are gone.

Finally, show a picture of yourself coming back through the door and happily being with your animal again.

This is a great way to show your animal what to expect, and your animal will be more at ease while you are gone.

Leila Finds Home

A young Leila

Leila, a female German Shepherd, was six years old when she came to live with Rupasi. Leila had lived in one home before that and was meek and submissive to the point of groveling. When Rupasi would greet her, Leila would cower close to the ground in fear. She would not look Rupasi in the eye. She was afraid of everything, except Rupasi’s cats, who she had tried to kill.

At our first appointment Leila described her unhappy previous home to me. After the appointment she went home with Rupasi and she slept for about 3 days. At first Rupasi had been worried about all the sleeping, but then she realized it was probably the first time Leila had slept peacefully in her whole life. Leila awoke a much happier dog and was open to new experiences. She became very willing to learn and was happy to be in Rupasi’s company.

Leila is now eight. She is extremely loving and kind, incredibly obedient and sensitive to Rupasi. She is still a bit of a worrier and chews on her paws when something is bothering her or if Rupasi is sick, but otherwise Rupasi considers Leila to be the perfect dog. She goes everywhere possible with Rupasi and is always focused on doing the right thing.

Now Leila’s eyes appear to be full of love and trust. Rupasi says that Leila now has an incredible softness and beauty even though she is a German Shepherd and from a working dog line. Leila has developed an innate sense to know when she needs to care for Rupasi. One night Rupasi had gotten lost in some very dark woods. Leila guided her out by walking only a short distance ahead, then waiting for Rupasi to catch up with her before again walking a short distance ahead until they were out of the woods.

Many people now marvel at Leila’s physical beauty and wonderful obedience. She has become a child magnet and children are drawn to her when they see her loving face.

Blue Kitty

Blue Blickle

When Alayne first saw her, Blue was a semi-feral, un-spayed stray in the neighborhood who had been dumped by thoughtless owners. Alayne said that as Blue darted across the road in front of her car, she remembered thinking that Blue looked like the most beautiful cat she had ever seen. At that moment, the thought that came to Alayne was, “That is my next wonderful cat!”

That was about seven years ago, when Blue took up residence on Alayne’s horse farm among horses, dogs, another cat and a large variety of wildlife. After about five years had past Blue’s health took a turn for the worse. Blue was having trouble breathing and she when examined by a vet, she was diagnosed with a leaking lymph vessel. It was leaking into her lungs and Blue was given two weeks to six months to live.

Initially Blue’s vet tried draining her lungs, which wasn’t very successful and was quite traumatic to Blue. That’s when I started working with Blue, mostly doing Reiki with her. In addition to my work, Blue took a supplement called Rutin three times a day, which had been recommended by the vet. With out without this supplement, Blue’s vet still couldn’t find any reports of cat’s living longer than six months with this condition.

Two and a half years later, Blue still takes her supplement two to three times a day but she is very much alive doing wonderfully, and living a happy and healthy life.

Blue’s vet continues to be impressed with all the energy work I did with Blue and with how well Blue is doing. Evidentially, Blue didn’t read the research!

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Polly Klein 2007. Polly Klein, owner of Tonglen Healing Arts for Animals, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master and Certified Animal CranioSacral Therapist. You can contact her online at www.tonglenhealingarts.com.