Our Animal Teachers – Learning From Larry

…posted by John Sawyer

Larry is a brindle boxer of indeterminate, but apparently advanced age. He came to Animals In Distress several months ago riding in the bed of a pickup truck along with another dog with whom he’d been wandering in a rural area nearby. An elderly woman saw them and ordered her sons to go get them before they were hit by cars or otherwise harmed.

Larry and his traveling companion had obviously been dumped out in the country and had no idea where to go or what to do. It’s fortunate for them that they were seen and brought to AID. Both were emaciated and full of sores. They were taken for veterinary care and afterward, with the love and support of the AID staff and volunteers, began their healing process.

Larry did well, putting on weight and gaining a healthy shine to his beautiful coat. Then, after a time, Larry began to limp on is right foreleg. X-rays and other tests determined that he has bone cancer which has spread to his lungs and elsewhere. He now has a pronounced bulge in his right shoulder that continues to grow. The cancer is aggressive and resistant to known treatment methods. The vets gave him a very poor prognosis and estimated he would live another three months.

I began working with Larry shortly after his diagnosis. After being introduced, we went into the introduction room to get better acquainted. Larry was interested in me for a few minutes, but then was distracted by conversations and laughter going on out in the reception area. I quickly learned that Larry is a very curious fellow and likes to know what’s going on at all times!

It’s not unusual in the beginning of my relationship with animals at the shelter for them to be interested in Reiki for a very short time. Many of them grow to enjoy it more as time goes on. Others love it from the first moment and soak it up. Still others are receptive at first, but then make it clear that they have better things to do that receive Reiki.

My first session with Larry was perhaps 5 minutes. He was becoming more agitated and clearly wanted out of the room to go see what was going on out in the reception area. So, out we went and Larry thoroughly investigated the situation.

After several sessions that played out essentially the same way, I came to the conclusion that Larry simply wasn’t receptive to Reiki. I stopped seeing him on my weekly visits and focused on other dogs and cats that were referred to me by the shelter staff. I always ask about Larry and the report iss always the same: he’s doing fine with regular pain management and is as curious as ever.

One day one of the shelter staff, a Reiki student of mine, pulled me aside and told me of an experience another of my students on the staff had had with Larry recently. She had been sitting with Larry in his run petting him and had gone into a sort of meditative state. She felt Reiki begin to flow through her and realized that Larry was drawing Reiki energy! She said she felt a wave of sadness pass over her and had the feeling that it came from Larry. He continued to draw Reiki for a few minutes, then it stopped.

Clearly, Larry had set his own criteria for his Reiki session. It was completely in his control, as it should be. My student had created a healing space and Larry chose to enter it, albeit for a brief time.

I was reminded when hearing this story of how we as practitioners must remember to simply create the healing space and let the animals choose to enter it or not. I had to admit that I had not done as good a job of that as I could have when working with Larry. I had let my expectations that he would gradually accept Reiki more readily take precedence over my primary task. Larry had been trying to tell me not that he wasn’t interested in Reiki, but that he wanted it on his own terms in his own time.

All the animals, our own and those we work with, are our teachers. It is our obligation to honor their wisdom and acknowledge their spiritual being. If we may offer them Reiki, so much the better, but that is for them to decide.

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