Animal Wise: Fit for a queen

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For a delightful tribute to Dash (and Tori, who plays him), visit the New Hampshire PBS site. (Photo courtesy New Hampshire PBS)

If you are a fan of the “Victoria” series and have not seen Season 2, Episodes 3 and 4, you may want to stop reading here. Even if you have seen it, it wouldn’t hurt to have a tissue handy.

How many twenty-somethings today could rule a nation? Before you answer that, let’s revise the question to: How many twenty-somethings of any era could rule a nation without the love, companionship, and guidance of a wise soul? I’m not talking about Prince Albert or Lord M, but Dash, Victoria’s Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who was her constant companion from her isolated girlhood into the beginning of her life as a queen, wife, and mother.

Dash (played by Tori, who had the same role in the 2009 movie “The Young Victoria”) appears in many scenes with Victoria, usually in her lap, on her bed, or on a nearby chair. This is a dog who knows his place, and he observes everything that goes on and listens to all that is said (and unsaid) by his beloved human. There is nothing one would not do for the other — not for personal or political gain, but purely for love and perhaps the occasional treat. He was the one being in the world who did not care about her parentage or power. Dash cared simply and honestly for Victoria — not by doing, but by being.

Shouldn’t everyone with a country, corporation, or consciousness to run have that? Especially during the almost-adult to stuff-just-got-real-adult transition. Pepper, a miniature Schnauzer mix, saw me from eighth grade to my early journalism career and almost through graduate school. When I imagine those years without her, I see a lot more sadness and judgement and a lot less growth, acceptance, and fun. One little dog made a big difference for me and the people and animals around me to this day, and I’m no queen.

When it became apparent at the beginning of the episode that Dash may not be doing so well, I braced myself, but of course the tears flowed when he died. I love his epitaph:

His attachment was without selfishness,
His playfulness without malice,
His fidelity without deceit,
READER, if you would live beloved and die regretted, profit by the example of DASH.

A sweet, perceptive two-minute video about Dash can be seen on the New Hampshire PBS website.

The initially crusty, but increasingly insightful Duchess of Buccleuch becomes the conduit, in Episode 4, for a new puppy entering the queen’s orbit. An unauthorized leak in the royal bedchamber points to the need for a bit of training for the pup, but we are left assured that Victoria’s education will continue.

 

Unpacking a code of ethics

51GcazjWWaLAlthough a shared code of ethics is important for any profession, that code carries much more weight when we explore what it means for us each day. Kathleen Prasad‘s latest book, Healing Virtues: Transforming Your Practice Through the Animal Reiki Practitioner Code of Ethics, does this succinctly and wisely. A review copy of this book was provided to me by the author, with whom I have been blessed to study.

Readers of her previous books will find more of a new context — the Animal Reiki Practitioner Code of Ethics, which she developed — than new content. However, this is a valuable review and unpacking of the code of ethics, to which I as a practitioner subscribe.

The book covers the basic principles of letting the animal lead the treatment, “being” instead of “doing” Reiki, and never diagnosing — but also the nuts and bolts of setting treatment times and communicating with the humans involved. Plenty of real-life examples are included. I loved that our Animal Reiki III and Teacher Training weekend at The Devoted Barn animal sanctuary, and the “before and after” effect Kathleen talks about in the book, was among them.

Also discussed are confidentiality, what to do with intuitive information received, and working in conjunction with veterinarians and other animal care professionals in the community. Kathleen does not shy away from the very real and difficult issues of animal suffering, compassion fatigue, and misunderstanding about what it is we actually do. This book helps us access the code of ethics to effectively and compassionately address these concerns.

Healing Virtues is great for working practitioners, but if you are new to the topic, I recommend Kathleen’s Animal Reiki: Using Energy to Heal the Animals in Your Life, co-authored with Elizabeth Fulton; and the more recent Heart to Heart with Horses: The Equine Lover’s Guide to Reiki.

Animal Wise: Essential oil safety

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Some essential oils can be toxic to cats, even when used in an aromatherapy diffuser. (Foter)

When a journalist friend shared a Snopes Fact Check piece about essential oils being potentially poisonous to cats, I took notice.

Snopes is generally good at sifting out scams and misinformation, and I already knew cats are much more sensitive than other animals to essential oils. When used the wrong way or in the wrong concentration or amount, even diffused, some essential oils can be toxic. That is something every cat guardian — OK, cat staff member — should know. It’s why I am very cautious about using essential oils myself, and why I would never suggest a client use essential oils without first seeking reliable guidance on which oils to use, how, and with what species.

As another journalist friend and cat parent pointed out, the safety of particular essential oils for cats and other animals is best determined not by Snopes but by a veterinarian well educated and experienced in this discipline. That’s when I remembered animalEO, a line of essential oil products developed by holistic veterinarian Dr. Melissa Shelton. A veteran physical therapist and dog parent told me about animalEO, and Dr. Shelton’s Away blend was helpful during last year’s bad tick season. Her website is packed full of information, and there is a very active animalEO Facebook group hosted by Dr. Shelton herself. (Good luck keeping up with the high volume of posts.) Also see her response to the viral post that led to the Snopes piece.

If you are interested in using essential oils and live with any dogs, cats, birds, or other animals, here are my recommendations:

  1. Go to animalEO and find out more about how the animal’s condition might be, or not be, addressed with essential oils. Don’t even think of buying cheaper, lower quality oils, or using blends not formulated for animals.
  2. Take that information and run it by your veterinarian.
  3. If you use essential oils, use as directed. When in doubt, use less rather than more.
  4. Observe carefully. If any adverse effects occur, discontinue use and contact your vet.

Be mindful — not fearful — and remember that “natural” isn’t necessarily beneficial.