Two kind horses, and one small shift, made the difference

Photo by Nancy Crowe

I thought about canceling my animal Reiki rounds on a recent day. But the barn wasn’t far from the hospital, I had some time, and I’m always encouraging others to drop expectations about showing up perfectly. Time to walk that talk.

I greeted horses Emmie and Zam, explained that someone I love was in the human version of the vet clinic, and apologized for my distraction. They looked at me with their soft eyes, completely ready for whatever I did have to offer.

We began the session. I tried meditating on the Reiki precepts, one of which is “do not worry.” Sigh. I tried coming back to the breath and quieting the mind. The breath came back to me, but a quiet mind? Not happening.

Emmie, a sweet and steady Haflinger; and Zam, a kind Dutch warmblood, kept grazing. (Horses love Reiki over breakfast.) Every so often they glanced my way. They have come to trust me, but I wondered if they’d walk away. They deserved better.

Then the line from the Prayer of St. Francis floated into my mind amid the thousand other things: “Make me an instrument of your peace.”

I silently offered that up. And again. The healing energy, after all, comes not from me but through me.

After several minutes of silently repeating that prayer, I noticed the two horses had drawn closer to me as they grazed.

Sometimes the smallest shift will turn us in a better direction. (And the human in question is home and recovering well.)

Message from a mule on bearing burdens

“Bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2) crossed my path several times over a couple of weeks — on a website I visited for a writing assignment, on a store facade I passed in Berne, Indiana, and more.

I wasn’t sure what to do with it. But I knew who to ask: a retired pack mule I recently began working with in my animal communication and animal Reiki practice.

Story, a distinguished 27-year-old donkey-Percheron cross, trained and worked as a pack mule in Wyoming before returning to her owner in the Midwest. Sadly, as her owner’s health declined, so did her activity level and care. When he went into a care home, she found a forever home and second career with Summit Equestrian Center.

Paul probably wasn’t talking about anything an equine (even the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem) might carry when he urged the Galatians to bear one another’s burdens in order to follow Christ’s teachings. Still … I wanted to know what “bearing burdens” meant to Story.

When I asked, Story acknowledged the physical burdens she’d carried. But she didn’t dwell on that.

The real burden, I heard from her, is uncertainty. Not knowing exactly what she was required to do, where she’d be going next, how she would be treated, whether she’d be fed on time. That’s a much greater weight.

Story’s new person has reassured her, with reinforcement from me, that she is home. She doesn’t have to carry loads of equipment. She can choose the work she does, and so far she’s chosen to support veterans. I can well imagine that those who have carried the weight of war, and maybe still never knowing when panic or despair might hit next, find a fellow traveler in Story.

By following through and offering someone a word of encouragement today, a hand with the groceries tomorrow, or ourselves a moment of grace any day, we can ease all our burdens. It doesn’t take any grand efforts. Even small actions lighten the load for animals who need to know they’ll be cared for today and tomorrow, no matter what they carried yesterday.

I can tell her not to eat that plant. But.

Tulips and other plants in your home or garden may pose a danger to your animal companion. (Image by Vlad from Pixabay)

As an animal communicator, I can tell your dog why it’s in his best interest not to nibble in your garden. I can advise your cat that eating the fresh-cut tulips you just brought in would result in illness, at least one upset human, and a trip to the vet. Or worse. Pets and plants can be a deadly combination.

Clear communication about expectations and consequences is important with any species. But for everyone’s safety and peace of mind, we often have to go further and block the path to temptation or remove it altogether. You can tell your teenagers that the liquor cabinet is off limits, but it might be best to keep it locked.

An animal-specific example: those Easter lilies are beautiful, and who doesn’t want a bit of life and symbolism after a long winter? But they are so toxic, especially to our feline friends, that I advise people with cats not even bring them home. It’s just not worth the risk. I don’t think Jesus will mind.

For harmony of animal and plant life, and to avert a horrible outcome, I recommend these steps. All of them.

  1. Know what’s toxic before planting it in your garden, adding it to the pasture, or bringing it into your home. The ASPCA maintains a list of plants known to be toxic and non-toxic to dogs, cats, and horses, but advises that ingesting any plant material can cause vomiting and gastrointestinal problems for cats and dogs.
  2. Know your animal companion, his curiosity level and interest in plants or other unauthorized objects. For example, if your dog is a shoe guy and has never looked twice at your flowers, you may have less worry than if his tastes are more universal (i.e., gets into everything).
  3. Be clear with your animal about what will happen if they chew on or eat plants. “If you eat this, you’re going to feel very dizzy, your tummy will hurt really bad, and I’ll have to rush you to the vet. I’d be so upset and frightened if that happened.” Picture all of this as you speak. “So find something better to do.” Then picture him calmly walking away from the plant and picking up a favorite toy, going to look out the window, or coming to you to be petted.
  4. Consider using a taste deterrent on your plants; I’ve had pretty good luck with Bitter Yuck, which I get through our veterinarian’s pharmacy.

Bottom line: If you know or suspect your animal may have ingested something poisonous, contact your veterinarian, emergency vet clinic, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, (888) 426-4435.