What Are You Thinking?
One rainy day about seven years ago I had gone to the barn to ride my horse, Arrow. It was Summer when I had first moved Arrow to this barn. Back then the place was sunny and dry, and horses lazily grazed in the large front pastures. Now, as I stood calling Arrow it was grey, cold, drizzling and muddy. For those of you who have horses, you know mud around horses can take on a whole new meaning. It can be inches to feet deep after a horses powerful hooves have tromped through it enough times.
Arrow now stood in the middle of a group of horses staring at me. I called him several times, but he did not budge. Impatiently I started to walk towards him, at which point two things happened simultaneously: Arrow trotted further away and my muck boot got stuck in the mud. With my next step my foot slipped out of the boot and landed with a splat in about a foot of mud. I was not happy.
Arrow was now standing about 15 feet away from me, once again just watching me. I wrestled my boot out of the earth, shoved my mud-soaked foot back in it and headed towards Arrow. By this point he was shifting his weight in a way that let me know we were about to play a game of keep away. In my frustration all I could think was, Come here horse so I can clobber you!
With that Arrow took off to the furthest point in the pasture. Clearly he saw no reason to come to the crazy woman. It took me a minute to realize what I had done. By thinking this way I was essentially telling him to come to the dangerous person. Why would he do that that? I composed myself, and miserable as I felt, managed to change my thoughts. I mentally showed my whole body getting soft and then I imagined an image of him slowly but confidently walking over to me and getting scratched on his neck. Within a minute of me picturing this, Arrow was shuffling up the pasture, ultimately arriving in front of me with his head low and ready to slip into his halter. Message received; it was safe to come near.
Its so easy for us to forget how our animals pick up our thoughts and how that affects their behavior. In the moment of my anger, all I could think was, Why isnt Arrow doing what I want?! He was not a dumb horse; he was actually responding exactly as he should have. From the start I had approached hurried, cranky and loud. Then I added in my thoughts and he made the reasonable choice to get out of Dodge.
We all do things like this from time to time, focusing on the negative behavior instead of encouraging the behavior we want. Earlier this week I was working with a beagle mix named Luka. She was determined to chase Tommy, a male orange tabby who had recently moved in. Luka had never lived with a cat before and thought this was a great new thing to chase. Tommy was terrified. Their person, Tamara, said it was like living in a war zone. She was chronically upset with Luka for catapulting herself at Tommy any time Tommy was nearby, and so she spent a lot of time yelling at Luka to stop each time the charge began.
I explained to Luka why it was upsetting Tamara when she chased Tommy and I also explained how Tamara wanted Luka to behave around Tommy. Then I turned to Tamara and told her she would have to change too. I told her she needed to create mental images of Luka ignoring Tommy or moving gently around Tommy. Even when Tamara saw chasing, I suggested she stop the chasing and then immediately show mental images of what she wanted to see happen instead of adding to the chaos with her loud voice. Tamara said she knew it would be hard to change, because each time she saw Luka enter a room Tommy was in she knew what was to come and naturally pictured that behavior unintentionally in her mind. Still, she was open to trying this new tactic.
Polly and Jordie
By the next week all the chasing had stopped. Luka had gotten the message and it had been reinforced by her person at home the moment the behavior occurred.
I still catch myself thinking unhelpful things at times. For instance, theres my endearing Standard Poodle Jordie who Ive also been know to refer to as Jerky Jordie when he runs past me at full tilt, chewing and swallowing a sock. I always have to stop and remember that Im sending the wrong message, that what I want is a calm dog who walks over to me and lets me take the sock from his mouth. Jerky Jordie has come to mean, I see this behavior and I expect it to continue. Im working on changing this.
Hopefully most of us are on the path to become better stewards of our animal companions. All we can ask of ourselves is to truly attempt to change our thoughts, forgive ourselves when we get it wrong and try to do better next time. Thankfully, our animals are extremely patient with us... so thats enough.
If you have a question you would like to see addressed in an article, please send it to Polly Klein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Client Profile: Jersey
When my fairly well adjusted 10 month old puppy, Jersey, suddenly began acting increasingly frightened around particular people and places, I knew something was off. By coincidence, I flipped on the television one night to find a feature on Pollys work. As I have wished hundreds of times to be able to get inside my puppys mind, I decided a visit to Polly was immediately needed.
I brought Jersey to Polly with numerous questions about her health, her recent scared behaviors, messages about upcoming travel, and random curiosities. I was so intrigued to see how Jersey would behave, how they would communicate, and what kind of information Polly would be able to procure.
The results from the session were fascinating. Jersey had recently begun to act increasingly frightened around my father. We knew something had happened with his cell phone that had sent her into a frenzy, but I was curious why that fear wasnt decreasing. I learned that Jersey views my father as enormous, capable of making extremely scary sounds, and a human who doesnt communicate like others Jersey has met before. She explained he had made a sound that had made her so nervous, and that she thought he had purposely created the noise in an effort to scare her.
Jersey also managed to explain the root of her newfound fear of the coffee house we sometimes paused in during a walk. Apparently, one day she was there, tied up waiting for me, when a big bus went by, made a noise, and a bigger dog lunged toward her. From that point on, she associated the coffee house with that attack and refused to stop. Since talking with Polly, she now has returned comfortably to the coffee house.
I asked Polly to speak to her about my husbands and my work. I wanted to make sure Jersey understood that when we were out of the house, we were at our jobs, and that we always would come home for her. She apparently seemed quite content with the idea wed be home, seemed almost annoyed that someone felt it necessary to explain that to her. I guess she knows well be home, but does not like when we are gone. She simply sits and waits on her perch. It was comforting to me that she know we arent going to leave her, and shes not nervous about that.
Polly spoke with Jersey about sitting still when I try to pull burrs off her body. She typically scampers away so quickly that I probably end up hurting her more than helping her. Jersey confirmed that she hates when I remove burrs. Polly tried to help her understand that if she would sit still, I would be able to get them quickly. She also tried to convey the idea that I was trying to help. Jersey seemed to understand that I wanted to help, but she wanted no part of sitting still for it. She showed Polly that she anticipated pain, and then leapt away when I came for the burr, thus causing the anticipated pain. On my end, I gained valuable information in knowing that she does truly have extremely sensitive skin, and I now work on her with the gentlest of touch.
Since the visit with Polly, it has been very interesting to watch Jersey in the areas about which we spoke. She is now comfortable at the coffee house. She is much better about allowing me to brush her, pull off burrs, and any other body treatment. She is still leery of my dad, but did spend a little more time sniffing him and working on figuring him out.
I constantly am wondering if Im communicating clearly with her. Shes an attentive little pup, and often looks at me with this curious tilt of the head, telling me she wants to chat. I can usually figure out what it is she wants, but if I could only get in her mind like Polly, some days would sure be a lot easier!
Client Profile: Romeo, Joey and Harley
Many of us have stories about how our beloved companions are a source of comfort to us in times of personal crisis. Before I began talking with our 3-pack of Labs through Polly a couple of years ago, I would have had no way of learning about their own inner processes in dealing with crisis. Heres my story.
Im a ceramic artist, self-employed out of my home studio. For years our dogs and I spent the days together in the studio while my husband went off to his work. The pups wandered in and out of the pottery classes I taught, so welcomed that I began to wonder whether the students were repeating classes for the love of clay or the dogs! Their daily presence also got me started on a line of dog sculptures, for which they provided endless inspiration and joy.
That all was put on hold back in late August 2008 when I was diagnosed with leukemia. For several months prior, Id been experiencing symptoms of severe anemia and had noticed that our pups usual boisterous attitudes had become a bit somber. After the diagnosis, they exhibited a marked difference as I had to suspend classes and spent much less time in the studio. Joey, our youngest Chocolate, was severely depressed, and Romeo, our oldest and ailing Lab-mix, seemed unusually clingy. Harley, our Black Lab, seemed to reserve her judgmentstaying watchful but relaxed.
So I called Polly to check in with our pack. They were all keenly aware that something was wrong and were worried. Joey wanted to know why Id gotten sick, and Romeo threw aside my concerns for his own well-being, instead wanting to know what he could do to help me. With Pollys guidance I was able to give them an explanation they could understand and to figure out a way to help them adjust to the new routine. Because I could no longer walk them, I hired a dog walker to give them the exercise and distraction they need and they seem to have settled in for the long-haul.
In preparation for an extended hospital stay, I recently called on Polly once again to let them all know that Id be gone for a while and that my husband and others would be here to care for them. They had questions, some of which we could answer and some not, but I felt a deeper sense of calm with all of them after the session.
The end of this story is yet to come. In the meantime, Im grateful to have a line of communication through Polly which allows me to give greater comfort to this trio of remarkable dogs who show me every day what unconditional love is all about.
Judith Enright, Owner, Black Leopard Clayware
If you would like to see your animal profiled here, just e-mail a picture to email@example.com. We will profile at least one client in each newsletter.
Upcoming Classes for 2009
Reiki Level I
LAST REIKI I CLASS UNTIL FALL 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009, 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Location - Tonglen Healing Arts for Animals, Issaquah, WA
Reiki Level II
LAST REIKI II CLASS UNTIL FALL 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009, 10:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Location - Tonglen Healing Arts for Animals, Issaquah, WA
Animal Communication Classes
Introduction to Animal Communication Workshop
LAST COMMUNICATION CLASS UNTIL FALL 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Sunday, April 26, 2009, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Location - Northwest School of Animal Massage, Redmond, WA
Continuing Education Credits available for this class!