Animal Wise: Showing up


Boo at Summit Equestrian Center. (Photo by Nancy Crowe)

A sad stillness enveloped the barn and pastures at Summit Equestrian Center on a damp, fall-is-coming morning a week after Whinnie died. The animals were grieving, and as I arrived for my weekly animal Reiki rounds, so was I.  In fact, I wondered if my own sadness would taint the energy I wanted to share.

No other humans were about, but horses Dante, Geronimo, and Blackjack were waiting by the fence. They weren’t waiting to be fed, saddled, or loaded, but for something that made sense. Whinnie, Summit’s thriving-with-disabilities spokeshorse, was a dwarf miniature horse with a giant presence, and that presence was glaringly absent now.

This equine trio felt not only that but the sadness of the other animals and humans who had worked with, cared for, or hung out with Whinnie. They had all taken turns visiting with her before she passed. They knew she had been struggling, especially during those last two days of her life on earth. When animals grieve, whether for a human or another animal, it’s not that they don’t understand what’s going on. They do understand, probably better than the humans do, but they feel even more acutely the disorientation that comes with loss.

I was unsure anything I could offer would make sense, but surrendering the outcome is essential when sharing Reiki energy with animals or communicating with them. So I set an intention for their highest good and put it all in God’s hands.

Then, because rain was starting to fall, I put my umbrella up. Bad idea. All three of them pulled back, startled.

“Sorry, guys.” I folded the umbrella. They relaxed, and I shared Reiki energy with the three horses in front of me and with the other horses, ponies, and a donkey, who all stood, still and mindful, in the pasture.

I offered a variation on the earth and sky meditation my animal Reiki teacher, Kathleen Prasad, taught, calling forth the grounding power of the earth and the divine inspiration of the sky. I reminded the crew that support is always there for them, no matter where they are, no matter what the circumstances.

A chilly breeze cut through my jacket as I finished up. The perfectionist in me still wondered if I’d done enough.

Then Boo, a beautiful 14-year-old black cat with white whiskers and a delicate white star on her chest, strolled up. I had not seen Boo in quite a while, as she usually hides out in the barn. Now here she was, meowing and rubbing against my legs.

Boo had been dropped off at Summit a couple of years before and was terrified of people. Now she’s “selectively social,” as executive director Allison Wheaton put it.

Being well-trained by cats, I know when a feline is demanding food, a lap, an opened door, a quick head rub, or the ever-popular butt skritch just above the tail. Today, Boo wanted healing energy: Come on, let’s see what you’ve got.

I sat on a bench in the garden while Boo continued to wind around me, occasionally putting her front paws on my knee but never quite jumping into my lap. As she took in the energy, she kept up a running commentary of meows and purrs. This, I felt her tell me, was just what she needed. Of course, it was just what I needed, too.


“Whinnie’s Silver Bells” at the 2017 Embassy Festival of Trees, with Whinnie’s photo and halter at the top. Sponsored by Cookie Cottage; decorated by Brandy Pulley and Amber Archer. (Photo by Nancy Crowe)

One of Whinnie’s most important lessons was that it doesn’t matter what you can’t do or don’t have. If you show up as you are and put what you do have out there, chances are it will be exactly what is needed.

During the holiday season, when we miss those who are no longer physically present and don’t always know how to respond to those who are still here, that lesson is something to treasure.

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