True Love of Animals

Michele Santom

Michele Santom

I have always been a huge animal lover.  I had many unusual pets such as skunks and a pot belly pig.  For over 20 years I had Great Danes and Maltese and showed them in confirmation dog shows.  I also owned a pet grooming salon.  My eyes for beautiful animals fell in the wrong direction.  I was focusing my attention on the outside.  One day I was jolted to awaken when a vet tech told me that a particular Maltese I was showing, who was staying with my professional dog handler, was “not happy” and she warned me to get her home as soon as possible.  At that time, I was so wrapped up in all the reasons why I loved dog shows and failed to see that this little dog did not.  Fortunately, she finished her Championship that very same weekend.  I took her home, cut off all of her beautiful, long luxurious coat and made an appointment to have her spade.  I wanted no chances to have a change of heart and breed her for more puppies.  I never sold a puppy.  I kept each and every one of them and showed only the best.  My friends in the business thought that I had lost my mind. I did not lose anything.  I found at that moment in time so much more…my true love of animals.  It is not about me at all.  It came to me at that moment that the animals are so giving of themselves that they would do anything for us.  Go to shows that are loud and scary, have strangers place their hands on them while they stood perfectly still, be dressed in silly clothes like dolls and yes, they are so loyal they would die for us.

So, in my search I started to find something to do for them.  To give back the love to these devoted beings.  In January of 2010, I began my journey into Reiki. Reiki is a Japanese technique that results in deep relaxation so the body can heal on a cellular level.  A technique designed for people.  After completing my studies, I started practicing on myself, friends, family and eventually clients.   It came to me:  This was how I could give back to my precious animals, through Reiki.  I started giving Reiki to my beautiful cat, Veronica when she became ill and I was giving Reiki to her as she made her transcendence.  I experienced this wonderful connection to her and it was extremely peaceful.  It assisted her along with me with her transcendence.  I started offering Reiki to my other pets as well.  They sat on my lap and seemed to enjoy the process.  I wanted to find out more about offering Reiki to animals.  After all, they were not willing to lay on the massage table for one hour.  After many books and videos, I came across an organization called SARA (Shelter Animal Reiki Association).  Wow!  Offering this wonderful Reiki to shelter animals, what great way to give back.  I started taking courses with two very accomplished ladies Kathleen Prasad and Leah D’Ambrosio from SARA.  I can say no less than working with the animals has been a profound experience.  I have now studied the traditional Japanese method of Reiki and have been certified in these techniques.





I am also a member and teacher with this organization.  My highest honor was to work with two very special clients a Siberian Tiger named Balh-Shoy and a Bengal Tiger named Tigger.  I went to the CARE Foundation to give them something but truly it was I who received the gifts.  To have a connection with these beautiful beings in such a deep manner is something I will never forget.  I will always hold these “teachers” in high regard as true Masters.  People call themselves “masters” without doing the work.  They take a few classes and certify themselves as a master.  It takes a tremendous amount of work, love and dedication to be a master.  I myself am a work in progress.

This connection is available to all of us if we take the time to be still and listen with our hearts. You, also, can give this gift of love to your animals.  Schedule a session for your animal friend or better yet learn these wonderful, life changing techniques so you can share this special connection with your beloved pet.

By Michele Santom

Michele Santom is a SARA Animal Reiki Teacher and owner of her own yoga studio based in Delray Beach, Florida.

Note:  If you would like to learn more about Animal Reiki, please visit our website Kathleen Prasad will be teaching the Animal Reiki Teacher Training Course at the CARE Foundation in February 2014. You can learn more about this class at To find out more about the CARE Foundation, please visit

In Memory of Harley: Reiki Hog, Teacher and Ambassador of Joy

Harley, BrightHaven’s beautiful 800-lb. black and white pig, passed away on July 11, 2012. He will be so missed by everyone at BrightHaven, by me, and also by so many of my students. My sincere sympathy and love to Gail, Richard, Fray and all the BrightHaven family. He was such an amazing soul; I wanted to write a little about him for those of you who didn’t get the opportunity to meet him in person.

Reiki With HarleyYou may remember Harley from his appearance in my first book Animal Reiki. When I first met Harley, in 2005, he was still up and walking around, but a bit unstable on his feet. For the last few years he has been a paraplegic. So many students would come to work with him and think, “Oh that poor pig can’t walk.” But over and over again after sitting with him for a Reiki treatment they would come back and say, “Oh this may sound a bit strange but I feel so happy after sitting with that pig. Something about him, he is just so joyful.” Yes so many people felt so happy after being with Harley. This was one of his biggest gifts to this world, I think.

Harley and IndigoI’ll never forget the day when I brought my daughter Indigo to visit Harley (she was then about 2 and ½).  We went out into his pasture, and of course when he saw us he began his series of welcoming oinks and snorts. He was always so social and happy to have visitors! Indigo was just enthralled! She immediately sat down a few feet away from him and began singing. I had never heard her do this before—she just made up a long song with lovely lyrics such as, “I love you Harley,” “You are such a nice pig,” “It’s fun to sit here with you Harley.” She would sing her lyrics and then take a break—and Harley would oink back to her appreciatively, as if he too were singing to her some special pig lyrics. We sat there for over an hour together with him that day; it is such a beautiful memory, I will never forget it. To see his beautiful heart touch a child so much; what an amazing pig!

I have been offering Harley Reiki treatments since we met (oh he just LOVED Reiki treatments!), and I have to say that each time I came away wondering who offered whom the healing??!! Sitting with Harley was like sitting in a joyful space with a good friend who showers you with gratitude, who laughs at all your jokes, who listens to all your concerns and who is never in a hurry.

Another fond memory I have is of watching BrightHaven staff member Fray with Harley. Feeding time was something else! Harley ate a healthier diet than most people, I think—the variety of fruits, veggies and other healthy foods he ate was quite impressive, and, I admit, looked delicious even to me! His favorite treat, though, was red apples, and every morning Gail would go out and feed him one for the day.

Over the past few years, Harley has slowed down very gradually. In early June I sat and offered Reiki to Harley and felt him saying goodbye to me. Felt that he was ready to let go. Although it was another 6 weeks before he passed, I think he was beginning the journey to transition already back then. But even in that weakened state, his energy was so peaceful, so gentle, so loving.  Ready for whatever challenges the future held.

Countless Reiki students over the years have practiced Reiki with Harley—for some students it might have been their first Reiki treatment ever, or at least their first ever with a pig. And over and over again they would describe the feeling of joy and happiness that they experienced while connecting with him.

For this pig, whose energy was bigger than life—it’s amazing how far he came from being a simple 4-H project meant for slaughter at age 1, to becoming an 11 yr. old Reiki teacher who touched so many lives, an animal friend to so many.

Thank you Harley for serving as a model for love and joy in this world.  It’s my wish that pigs and humans all over the world can share love, joy and compassion with each other. Let’s create a new vision for the future—pigs as friends and teachers, how about that?

Kathleen Prasad