I had been asked to reduce my work hours by one day each week and the following week I received a letter in the mail from my local RSPCA advising I had been accepted for volunteer work and could I start next week. The Universe was telling me something. My “real” work was just beginning, volunteering one day a week at the RSPCA.
My first day volunteering at the RSPCA was very busy cleaning cat and rabbit cages, offering Reiki as I went. And then Kim, the dog trainer/behaviourist person asked could I go and see the dog quarantine area to offer Reiki as there were some problem dogs. As I entered the dog quarantine, I wondered where should I start as there were so many needy animals, it was difficult to choose. So I stood in the middle, grounded myself and offered Reiki to all the dogs at the same time to see who would accept it. Within minutes, all dogs had stopped barking. The messages of “What have I done to be put here?” just flooded towards me. These poor animals were all carrying so much guilt thinking they had done something wrong to be put in prison. This is so common amongst shelter animals, even those that have been formerly mistreated.
Then there was Rusty, a four year old red healer cross who was just quivering from fright with his tail between his legs. He was extremely underweight and had a “Caution, Dangerous Dog – Do Not Enter” sign on his cage. Rusty, together with his house mate, Chloe, a three year old German Shepherd cross, had been rescued from an extremely abusive home where affection, respect and enough food were unknown. Rusty tried to look at me with his orange eyes but was too frightened. However, he did tell me he was misunderstood.
After finishing the Reiki treatment I went and saw Kim, who mentioned that Rusty was on the Put To Sleep list due to his behaviour problems. I told Kim that I received the message he was misunderstood, and as so often happens when you think a Reiki session has finished, Rusty was continuing to send me more information: he was a truly gentle dog but was very misunderstood and carried so much guilt as to why he was in prison. I conveyed this to Kim, stressing he was really gentle if given the chance and that I was not frightened of him at all. Rusty would not look at you directly, but put his head down and looked at you indirectly with his orange eyes. This was Rusty’s way of protecting himself from physical abuse.
Kim was amazed that I could “pick up” such information and agreed to give Rusty one more chance.
The next week I gave Rusty more Reiki and this time, he no longer had his Dangerous Dog sign on his cage. The RSPCA staff were amazed at the difference in Rusty as Reiki had never before been given to the shelter animals.
By my third week of volunteering, Rusty had graduated from Dog Quarantine to the normal, healthy dog section! Rusty was definitely NOT on the Put To Sleep list now! The difference in Rusty was a joy to behold. Rusty was running, barking and playing with the other dogs and had put on some weight. Rusty was up for adoption!
Unfortunately the weeks passed without anyone showing Rusty any interest in adopting him. He had grown into a beautiful, strong boy with very wide shoulders but he could look somewhat threatening to people who were not familiar with his breed. When I visited the shelter, Rusty would look at me with such a happy face and his happiness was payment enough for me, but he needed a permanent home.
Then one week Rusty was not there. I was devastated! What had happened to him? As I can only volunteer one day a week, I tried to find Kim, hoping she would know. When I asked where was Rusty, Kim had the biggest smile on her face. Rusty had been adopted! A lady who owned a mango farm in far away New South Wales, approximately 2,500km including two States and Bass Straight away (one of the roughest stretches of water in the world!) from Tasmania, Australia, had seen Rusty’s profile on the RSPCA adoption website and fallen in love with his eyes – those little, squinty, orange eyes!
She had travelled all that distance, but needed to know that Rusty was indeed the dog for her. This was a woman who needed to receive a sign that Rusty was her dog, that Rusty would choose HER, not that she chose Rusty. Apparently Rusty did choose her, he walked slowly up to this lovely woman, sniffed her, walked away again and came up to her three times before he placed himself against her legs for a cuddle. The woman was thrilled, Rusty was indeed HER dog. But, because she lived in another State of Australia and we could not physically do a property inspection, it was doubtful the adoption would go ahead. Thankfully Kim pleaded Rusty’s case and explained no other person had shown any interest in adopting Rusty and Rusty had obviously chosen this woman as his forever person, the adoption went ahead. Rusty is now running free on a mango farm in New South Wales, over 2,500km away from Hobart, Tasmania, being the true gentle dog I always knew he was.
There is also a happy ending for Rusty’s housemate, Chloe. My daughter, Tracey, and her paraplegic partner, Darren, adopted Chloe after a name change to Charli-Chloe, as my daughter has a cat called Chloe. The three of them took to one another straight away, and now Charli-Chloe, Tracey, Darren and Chloe the cat, are one very happy family. Even though Darren is in a wheelchair, not once has Charli-Chloe tried to escape from the car, as it can take Darren some time to arrange his wheelchair and get out of the car. Charli-Chloe even helps to open up the gate to let Darren in the yard. After an abusive life, Charli-Chloe knows she has a loving home and is no hurry to leave.
The RSPCA in Australia has a policy of only putting to sleep those animals that show extremely bad behavioural problems with no prospects of rehabilitation or if it is kinder to put the animal to sleep due to severe illness. Because Rusty was declared a dangerous dog and could not be rehabilitated, he was going to be placed on the Put To Sleep list. Reiki prevented this.
and RSPCA Volunteer
Reiki helps in so many situations but where I feel it offers the most help is when an animal is facing being put to sleep. None of us know the challenges our animal will face but we all know that we want to make them as easy as possible. The hardest cross to bare is when one of our animals is being put to sleep. It is a time of great sadness and can be distressing to both the owner and the animal. When the time is right to cross over the ‘Raibow Bridge’ this certainly can be aided with the help of Reiki.
Two Dots Sheep who had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, was unable to walk in a straight line and had kept on hurting herself, she had been poorly for a few weeks and had seen the Vet on numerous occassions, Remus had tried every option to help her but it was an impossible situation. If Dotty had been part of the farming world, she would never have lived to an age, where old age actually caused problems, she would have most certainly be sold for meat and certainly would not be able to age with dignity. Luckily for Two Dots she had a happy and fulfilled life at Remus. A lot of people think sheep are all the same, if you take the time to watch them, they are far from the same. They are so individual in so many ways, Two Dots had lots of character and personality to make her very unique.
Arriving at Remus I was asked to go straight into see Dotty. I felt nervous entering her shelter as this was only the second time I had seen an animal being put to sleep. I was there before the vet arrived so was able to spend time with her. She was pacing around her shelter and seemed quite anxious. I stayed in the corner and knelt whilst I offered Reiki out so it could fill the area and she could take what ever she needed. I am not sure what I felt but all I knew was that I wanted her last minutes to be as peaceful as possible. I did not invade her space, I just let her be where ever she felt she needed to be. I continued to offer Reiki hoping that she would relax. The Vet arrived with two of the Remus staff , where it was decided that Dotty should be sedated as she was still quite stressed. As she relaxed, I felt her take more Reiki, I then moved closer and gave her hands on Reiki, she was now in a very calm state. I offered her Reiki as the Vet put her to sleep and I can say that it was a very peaceful death. She closed her eyes and passed over to the other side very quietly. Her death was very dignified which I am sure she would have wanted. I am glad I was there for her last minutes, I was glad that I was there to offer her Reiki and I was glad I was there to say goodbye.
Remus Healing Group
Over the last year and a half, I have been lucky enough to meet other Reiki practitioners. It was through these various meetings that I decided to set up a healing group following the SARA principles. My group meets once every two months; due to some of the practitioners having to travel from a far. We are all of differing experience and backgrounds, but we all have a deep love of animals and we all want to give something back to these wonderful creatures.
As was usual we met at Remus last Saturday afternoon, armed with coats jumpers and scarves, it was very cold! We like to, meet at this time as it is just after the animals have been fed and watered. Normally they are all settled in their fields or shelters by this point. We like to have a chat before we start offering Reiki, as it is a good time to catch up on what each of us has been up to. If we are lucky and have time, we have a cup of tea and sit with Timmy the cat who likes to be stroked and loves affection. I feel this is a time for us to become grounded and to release any stresses that we may have, at this point we set off to help the animals. As Sue was on holiday this week, she had already texted me a list of the animals she would like us to work on, so I knew which animals to offer Reiki to without interrupting the staff, these are usually the animals who are most in need.
There were five of us altogether, however the total number in the group was eight. We decided that we would start with Billy a horse who was almost starved to death by his previous owners. He has food issues and is usually outside during the day, but due to stomach problems he had to rest in the stable. We decided to offer reiki as a group as we all felt he was in need of a lot of energy, and so we asked for his permission. At the start Billy 3 was very calm and watched us intently as we stood outside his stable offering Reiki. After a while he started to breath heavilly, it was almost as if he was releasing built up emotions and feelings. I felt that he did not like spending so much time in the stable, and would rather be outside eating the grass. He eventually settled and became calm, I have found that the healing time in a group is a lot less than if reiki is being offered by an individual. It is important to ask the animal for permission as group healing can be quite intense, in some cases the animal will move far away as the energy is too strong. It is so important for the animal to be in charge of their healing.
We then offered reiki to Apollo who is a beautiful grey mare. She had been kicked by a horse and had a lot of stitches to her bottom. Again we stayed as a group and offered her healing. She immediately turned her bottom to us and stood there for a while, taking in the wonderful reiki energy. She then turned to face us and started to ‘weave’ above the fence post. This surprised me as two other horses had shown stereotypical behaviours during a healing earlier. It was a little distressing to watch but we all felt that because she was having a group healing her deep rooted issues were coming to the surface quicker. To our surprise when we all turned around to leave, a group of goats in the opposite field had glazed eyes and were resting their heads against the fence, all completely chilled, obviously taking in the reiki too. It was a very funny sight to see and made us all laugh.
Our third Reiki session was with Bugs, a horse who has chronic arthritis and is in a lot of pain. I have offered her reiki many times before and was not surprised to see that as soon as we offered reiki she came over from the middle of a group of horses and moved up right against the fence to where we were standing. She soaked the reiki up like a sponge and became dreamy and chilled. During her Reiki session she drank quite a lot of water, Nicky who is a qualified crystal therapist decided to ‘charge’ the drinking water with the crystal fluorite which is good for bones. Bugs drank even more water and at one point almost put her hoof in the water tank.
During the afternoon we split into smaller groups and offered reiki to as many animals as possible which included Cocoa the cat and Bimbo, Star, Casey and Marley the horses. It was a good time to walk around in the energy of Remus to see where the horses were being put to bed and how immaculate, warm and cosy each stable was. The tireless work which never ends at Remus is amazing to see, the love and attention given to each animal is a blessing.
The thing about offering reiki in a group is that inevitably each person takes on some of the wonderful healing energy. We finished offering reiki and said our goodbyes. We were all chilled, calm and a little tired. We agreed to meet again on the 12th of December, before the Remus’s Carol Service starts, it will be a time to meet, offer reiki and to eat mince pies!
by Caroline Thomas © 2010
..posted by John Sawyer
One of the things that we as animal Reiki practitioners sometimes forget is that the people who care for the animals in the shelters in which we practice sometimes need Reiki as much or more than the animals do. Having been in animal rescue in one form or another for about 15 years now, I’ve seen many rescue people burn out from the overwhelming nature of the task. The same syndrome occurs in shelter staff and volunteers.
This was brought home to me recently when one of the people I’d trained in Reiki at AID had a very difficult time with the passing of one of her charges. The dog crashed suddenly and was rushed to the vet, where she went into cardiac arrest and was unable to be revived. A necropsy showed massive internal problems so she would not have lived long even if she had been revived.
One thing that made her transition so difficult for my student was that no one had seen it coming despite the dog’s age and a recent trip to the vet for another incident. More importantly for her, my student told me that during the 36 hours or so that she cared for the dog during this crisis, she “forgot Reiki.” It dawned on her after the dog made her transition that she’d simply forgotten to offer her Reiki. This combined with the shock of the dog’s unexpected passing really knocked her for a loop.
We had a conversation about the incident and her distress over it during which I silently offered her Reiki. I asked her why she thought it had upset her to that degree and she replied “Maybe I could have done more.”
I knew the answer before she spoke, but wanted her to come to that realization on her own. I told her that she didn’t need to worry about turning Reiki on and off, that she being Level 2 now is Reiki and flowing Reiki all the time. Had the dog wanted more Reiki, it would have been drawn from her to the degree where she would have noticed it.
I explained that we have all been through that sort of “maybe I could have done more” or “I could have done it better or differently” remorse. It’s the nature of healers to want to see those with whom they share their healing to heal on a physical level. What we need to remember is that we can only offer healing. It’s up to the recipient to do with it what is for their highest good.
One of the many beautiful things about Reiki is that it heals on levels other than the physical. Most of us don’t have the ability to see the healing take place on those non-physical levels, so we simply have to trust Reiki and know that what we have offered has been used for the highest good. In the same way, we honor the recipient’s free will to remain physically focused or not.
I think all of us when we first began learning and practicing Reiki wanted to be able to cause healing to happen. Especially those of us raised in Western culture where medicine is believed to cause healing. It’s a major paradigm shift to go from the notion of “zapping” beings with Reiki to make them better to offering Reiki and allowing them to do with it what they wish.
It’s especially difficult for practitioners like my student who had a good deal of success early on with their Reiki, “success” being defined as having outcomes that matched her expectations. To paraphrase an old adage, one doesn’t learn from success, it’s failure that carries the real lessons. This outcome (the dog made her transition) was perceived as a failure by my student, even though it was not by any means a failure on her part.
It’s easy to see how she could fall into a negative spiral from thinking this way. I simply reminded her of what we’d discussed in her Reiki 2 class about how the animals are sentient beings in control of their own lives and we don’t get a vote as to whether they choose to heal on a physical level or not.
I also gave her what I call the “Mantra of the Rescuer”:
All you can do is all you can do, and all you can do is enough.
I don’t know who first said that. I read it long ago and it has been a touchstone in my life when I’ve felt overwhelmed by seemingly insurmountable obstacles in my path. It fits well with the Reiki philosophy, in my view, and is completely appropriate for shelter or rescue personnel as they deal with the never-ending stream of animals needing their help.
…posted by John Sawyer
It’s been quite a year for me at AID. I’ve met and worked with many animals and learned from all of them. Animals are such wonderful teachers!
I wrote about Allie previously. Unfortunately, Allie made her transition several weeks ago. Her condition had worsened to the point where she was harming herself despite the best efforts to keep her safe. There was no joy in Allie’s life aside from the time she spent sleeping in the arms of myself or another volunteer. During our last session together I got the strong sense that she had had enough of the struggles and was ready to return her focus to the non-physical.
Allie’s transition was more difficult for me than usual. We as practitioners know that Reiki heals on all levels and always hope for a physical healing as well. At least in my case, I think the more “hopeless” the case is, the more hope I have that a “miracle” will result. Sometimes we get those miracles, and often we don’t. In all cases, though, there are lessons to be learned.
In Allie’s case, the most obvious lesson was to release my emotional attachment to her healing. I looked forward to spending an hour or so carrying a slumbering Allie around the shelter. I felt, or at least hoped, that our Reiki sessions were helping her to maintain status quo, if not make visible progress, but that was not the case, at least not on a physical level. I’ve come to the realization that the contrast between her Reiki naps and the rest of her life became so great that she could no longer abide the latter.
When we sleep, we are connected to our Source. I’ve noticed that older animals sleep a lot more and a lot more heavily which indicates that they are preparing to make the transition to non-physical. While they are sleeping, they are exploring the non-physical and coming to terms with their transition. I’m sure this same process took place with Allie and that she finally decided she had fulfilled the purpose of this chapter in her eternal life.
Honey was another Pomeranian I met briefly. I had seen her while working with Allie in the kennel wing one day. She was a beautiful buff color with bright eyes and a lovely energy about her. During one of my recent visits to AID, I heard that they had found Honey unconscious and rushed her to the vet.
Two days later I was visiting AID again and learned that Honey’s blood sugar had dropped too low as a result of her diabetes, but that she recovered quickly at the vet and was back at the shelter. They suggested I offer her Reiki and I spent about 20 minutes carrying her around the shelter while she soaked up Reiki. She appeared bright and perky and none the worse for her earlier ordeal.
As it turned out, that was the only session I was to have with Honey. She had a setback shortly thereafter and was taken back to the vet where she went into cardiac arrest. The vet staff was unable to revive her. A necropsy revealed a number of problems with her internal organs.
The fact that she was able to function so well given the internal mess she was is yet another testament to the ability of our animals to focus on the moment. Someone once said to me that animals compensate until they can’t any more which explains why they often seem fine, then crash suddenly. Basically, animals “press on regardless” as long as they are able, a lesson many humans should take to heart!
Button and Larry
There were many bright spots this year, as well. I’ve written about Button, the little Jack Russell terrier pup who recovered from her broken back. I recently met Larry, a “senior” boxer and a delightful gentleman who was rescued off the street a few months ago. Larry and I have only had one short session thus far, but I’m sure there will be more.
Molly is a charming lady Lab who is doing her thing oblivious to the firestorm of events going on around her. Molly had been adopted and was recently returned to AID after an incident at a family gathering that has sparked a flurry of lawsuits and legal maneuverings. It’s a sharp contrast between her attitude and the consternation of the humans involved many of whom could learn a great deal from Molly’s straightforward mindset.
Finally, to show that I haven’t neglected the feline contingent at AID, I spent time this year with many in the cat wing including Spook and Eli, the two paralyzed cats who occupy adjoining playpens and keep watch over the comings and goings in the cat wing. Their current project is the supervising of two guinea pigs across the hall from them.
Bogie, Silky, Jet, Robert, Chloe, Geraldo and several other cats live together in a room just off the infirmary. Bogie took about 6 months to decide I was a friend. He now accepts Reiki and petting for short periods of time when I come to visit. His favorite activity is laying in his basket by the window soaking up the sun.
The Cat of the Year is GT, a grey tabby kitten I found near a farm while on my way to the vet with two of my dogs one evening not long ago. I saw her cross the road in front of my car and it was apparent that she was having difficulty. She lay down on the grass off the side of the road and was still there when we returned from the vet an hour or more later. I took the dogs home, got the smallest carrier we had, and went back to see if she was still there. She was, so I picked her up and put her in the carrier. I called the vet and took her there.
Ten days later, she was declared healthy although she has some neurological problems probably a result of panleukopenia, a condition not unusual in feral cats. Her eyes had been pasted shut when I found her, but had cleared up as a result of medication. The vet believed her to be blind, but we have since determined that she can see, at least to some degree.
GT appeared to be about four months old, but had her adult teeth so was at least 6-7 months old. No doubt the lack of regular meals contributed to her tiny size.
AID agreed to take her in and she has been there several weeks now. She’s grown noticeably, plays energetically with her toys and has endeared herself to everyone. She has at least two people interested in adopting her so she will find a forever home soon.
Reiki has played a great part in all of the above stories and many more. Many more stories end happily than otherwise, in physical terms, because Reiki is an integral part of AID and the care of their animals. A number of the staff and volunteers have at least Reiki 1 and we will certainly add to that contingent in the coming year.
2009 was a busy year for SARA. As Kathleen said in her blog, it was a year of change, new projects, new members and much growth!
SARA started off the year on wobbly legs and spent most of the year like all new businesses – trying to reach goals, find balance and maintain quality. As the year ends, I feel I can safely say we have achieved all three. And when I say “we ” I mean we as in me, Kathleen and each of you. We would not be where we are today without the hard work and devotion each one of you has given to SARA.
As 2009 closes today, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the help, guidance and encouragement we received from our members, friends, experts, animal lovers and of course, the animals themselves. So many of you willing gave your time and expertise to help SARA not only become a professional non-profit but to be one of the first (if not the first!) organizations to create structured Reiki programs for shelters, rescues and sanctuaries here in the U.S. and abroad. A big thank you to all who have helped us end 2009 on a successful note.
A word of gratitude and special thank yous are sent to our SARA shelter organizations and all other shelters and rescues who have opened their doors to the healing power of Reiki. With your help, more and more animals are receiving the benefits of Reiki daily.
Each of you has shined your inner light on SARA and as we connect with others, our light grows brighter. Thanks to you, SARA is starting 2010 with a very bright future!
With love and gratitude,
SARA Vice President
Dear SARA Members and Friends,
Thank you for a wonderful year of 2009, offering Reiki to shelter and sanctuary animals around the world! This has been a year of growth, change, new projects, new animal organization members, and the sharing of many wonderful shelter and sanctuary Reiki stories! Some dear friends gave me the wonderful book, Animal Blessings, by June Cotner, for Christmas. I’d like to share with all of you a quote from this book that I feel echoes the heart experiences we often encounter in our Reiki offerings for homeless animals:
I Will Always Remember
I will always remember the olive-eyed tabby who taught me that not all relationships are meant to last a lifetime. Sometimes just an hour is enough to touch your heart. –Barbara L. Diamond
May the memories of the Reiki relationships that you create with the many amazing animals you meet uphold your heart and spirit as you forge ahead in this courageous work. And a Happy New Year to everyone!
With Animal Reiki Blessings,
I recently had the opportunity to give a SARA presentation to a local humane society animal shelter. We tried for several weeks to coordinate my schedule with the schedules of the Executive Director and her right hand person. I met both of them a couple of months prior to our meeting and I also attended their volunteer orientation. We were happy to finally set a date to discuss Reiki and the SARA program.
The presentation lasted about an hour and they both were very excited about Reiki and the benefits it could bring to the animals and the shelter. Since neither of them had experienced Reiki for themselves I offered to give them each a mini Reiki session. It lasted about 10 minutes each and both commented on how relaxed and peaceful they felt. I could feel the positive flow of our meeting.
Prior to the meeting we talked about offering Reiki to some of the dogs. They decided it would be best to bring one of the dogs into the very big conference/training room that we were in. The wanted to try it with the dog out of his element. The assistant went to get the “dog that had some issues” and the ED was called out by one of the staff momentarily.
This is when my mind started on a wild race with all of the “what ifs”- the control- the preconceived ideas of what it should look like-I thought we would be in the kennel with the dog- I feel pressure to perform-and on and on. WHOA–slow down cowgirl as I pull myself back in. It is amazing to me, given the opportunity how many scenarios my mind can create in a matter of seconds! As I sat in this big conference room alone, I gave myself Reiki, I sent Reiki into the room-which already felt wonderful from the Reiki I gave the humans just minutes ago.
The assistant brought in a male Pit Bull mix breed that destroys everything and anything he finds. He is anxious, a bit nervous and not quite ready for adoption. The ED is sitting at the table across from me and the assistant is on the floor at one end of the room. I have already explained to them the way we offer Reiki with SARA. The dog is free to roam in the room and I allow him to come in and out of the Reiki space I am creating and take the amount of Reiki he needs.
I make my self comfortable in the chair as I close my eyes and began to offer him Reiki. I can feel immediately the Reiki flowing from my hands and know he is accepting it. However, he is pacing around the room, sniffing every chair (about 20 of them), every corner and nook. He is breathing heavy. He comes over to me for about 30 seconds and places his head on my lap and paces off. Eventually, he makes his way over to the assistant and plops beside her.
Again, my mind wants to go on it’s tangent of how this should look and what he should be doing. What are the humans thinking? Do they think I am crazy sitting here with my eyes closed and my open hands resting on my lap, appearing to be doing nothing. I come back to focus on the Reiki, by silently saying the dog’s name or chanting a Reiki symbol. I trust the Reiki is happening (I can feel it, so I know that it is) and allow it. He continues to lay, roll and play beside the assistant. There is a sense of peacefulness in the room.
Just as the animals take the Reiki in the ebb and flow, so does my mind. In the 15 minutes I was with the dog I would “worry” and then come back and allow. In the end I received much validation from the humans on the incredible difference they saw in the dog. As they put it, “they never saw him so relaxed and at peace”. They thought it was amazing. I too found it to be amazing, because I was concerned of how he appeared to be anxious. I had never seen the dog before to know his typical behavior that was now apparently transformed.
We plan to introduce Reiki in the shelter in the near future, as they have made many changes and want to slowly introduce another change. My lesson from the dog is to just “TRUST”the Reiki. I am grateful for all the animals that continue to guide me and help me to just allow rather than do!