Ease anxiety of travel without your pet

Friends of mine used to check their rescue cockapoo, Holly, into the kennel a day or two early so she wouldn’t see them packing. Holly, of course, knew they were going away long before the suitcases came out.

At this point in 2021, many folks are traveling again, perhaps with some anxiety. That’s on top of the usual anxiety over leaving pets behind if you are doing so. I have fought back tears when pulling out of the driveway or dropping somebody off at the vet clinic for boarding. Even when you trust those caring for your precious family member, when the moment comes, there may be pleading looks, trembling, and whining. The animal may not take it well, either.

However, you don’t have to deceive your cat or dog (you probably can’t anyway) to make the situation kinder.

The obvious place to start is with the best possible arrangements for your animal’s care, whether in your home with a relative, friend, or sitter coming in; at someone else’s home; or at a boarding kennel or vet clinic. Consider the animal’s individual needs and personality, and trust your intuition. (Got fish? Check out this very useful information from a fish veterinarian. Everything you may have assumed about vacation fish care is probably wrong.)

Once those plans are in place, here are a few ideas:

Give it to ’em straight. With pictures. Tell the animal what you’re doing, who will care for him or her and where, and when you will be back. As you speak, calmly hold the corresponding images in your mind, because these — just as much as or more than your words — will get the message across.

For example, you could tell your dog: “We are going to visit Grandma next week, and Susan is going to come stay here and take care of you. Remember how much fun you had last time she was here? We’ll be back in four days.”

While you’re saying these things, picture Grandma … then Susan … then the dog playing with Susan last time … then the sun rising and setting four times … and finally, you coming back in the door with your suitcases.

Acknowledge any challenges or negative feelings. “I know you got upset the last time you went to the kennel, and that was hard for me, too. We’re going to try it again. I’ll try to be braver and hope you will, too.” Again – picture it.

This respects both of you and sets the intention for a better outcome. It also affirms you as the decision maker. Again, get in charge of your own state of mind first; if you are angry or anxious, that will drown out whatever you’re trying to communicate.

Check in. While you’re gone, you can call and have someone hold the phone out to Fluffy while you talk to her. Then you can listen as the human comes back on the line and tells you Fluffy twitched her ear and stalked off. Or you can skip this potential awkwardness and touch base telepathically. Yes, you can; there’s a reason some dogs (and cats, and birds, and horses, etc.) know when their people are on their way.

Find a (relatively) quiet moment, bring your animal companion to mind, and just say hello. Tell her you’re thinking of her, that you love her, and remind her when you will be home. You can leave it at that, or you can ask a question and listen for a response. Either way, she will appreciate you checking in.

Try one or more of these next time you travel, and please be safe.

(Image by Rayleen Slegers from Pixabay

Talk before you walk

Image by MabelAmber from Pixabay

In my corner of the world, walks and dog park visits get a lot more frequent and fun in March. This year in particular, I think we’re especially eager to get out, charge ahead, and get past all that’s held us back. So it’s all the more important to get the season off to a good start.

Before you grab the leash or even spell the W word, calmly sit or stand with your dog. Picture what the two of you are going to do — putting on the leash/halter, going to the dog park, walking down the sidewalk in your own neighborhood — and how you expect him to behave. It’s important to picture what you do want (keeping his attention on you, for example) instead of any behavior you don’t want.

Check out these good-citizen tips. Don’t feel like clicking? I understand. Here are the basics: Pick up your dog’s poop, keep him leashed and close to you, and prevent him from injuring other animals or people.

If you do experience problems, even and especially if someone else brings them to your attention, please don’t hesitate to work with a trainer. There’s no shame or judgment, only a desire to improve the quality of life for your dog, you, and anyone you may encounter. A good trainer can do wonders, especially if you get a referral from someone you trust. It’s really never too late to make a positive change for both you and your dog.

I’m happy to help, too! Both Reiki and animal communication can be very useful in resolving behavioral issues, easing transitions, and giving animals and their people a “reset” during stressful times.

My brother the car whisperer

Gary, left, shown here with brother Dave, loved cars from an early age.

When Gary Crowe was 16, his life was disrupted by the arrival of a little sister (me). Very shortly thereafter, he got sick with appendicitis. So sick, in fact, that Mom and Dad had to sign off on a not-yet-approved drug in order to save his life.

Thankfully, he recovered, but he’d missed so much school that he ended up dropping out. In the 1960s, North Central High School in Indianapolis did not have programs for budding auto mechanics like him. Gary loved cars, classic cars in particular. He worked for a number of automobile shops in Indianapolis and always had a car with which he was, or had been, tinkering. One was a red MG convertible, and I remember Gary, older brother Dave, and I tooling around in it.

He moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1978 and worked for a car dealership, eventually heading its service department. For a few years, he lived on a 35-foot cabin cruiser.

I’m not even sure what this was, but Gary understood it.

Gary always answered my car and computer questions (which also gave me an excuse to check in with him) and even helped me buy a car from across the country. As the years went by and the recession threw bumps and craters in his employment path, he discovered a talent and love for cooking.

Gary passed away Feb. 25, 2021 at age 70 in California.

While trying to think through ways to celebrate my brother’s life during a pandemic, I kept going back to his high school days. Would a vocational program have kept him in school? Probably. I can’t know for sure, but I do know the folks who work on our cars deserve good training in everything from basic engine function to the intricacies of today’s vehicles. As a supervisor, Gary would no doubt have appreciated new mechanics who came well prepared to diagnose and repair.

Therefore, I invite anyone who would like to do so to contribute to the automotive services program at the J. Everett Light Career Center at North Central to help today’s car whisperers get started. Just follow the link to the online giving form, select the “in memory of” option, and type in Gary Crowe under additional gift information. The very kind folks there will get it to the right place.

Ride on, Gary.