Showing up in 2020

horses-on-a-grass-field-under-a-cloudy-sky-Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pixels

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

Whinnie, Summit’s thriving-with-disabilities spokeshorse, was a dwarf miniature horse with a giant presence. That presence was glaringly absent now.

All of the animals had taken turns visiting with her before she passed. They knew she had been struggling. When animals grieve, whether for a human or another animal, it’s not that they don’t understand what’s going on. They probably understand it better than the humans do, and feel the loss and disorientation all the more acutely.

On that morning a week later, no other humans were about, but three horses waited by the fence. They felt not only the loss of Whinnie, but the sadness of the other animals and humans who’d known her. 

I wasn’t sure anything I could offer at that moment would help. In the face of suffering, injustice, and anger, it’s easy to feel that whatever we bring to the table will not be enough.

However, surrendering the outcome is essential when sharing Reiki energy with animals or communicating with them. So with a brief prayer, I set an intention for the animals’ highest good and put it in God’s hands.

Rain began to fall, and without thinking I put my umbrella up. Startled, all three horses pulled back.

I folded the umbrella and stashed it away. I started to castigate myself for not remembering that I actually knew better than to unfurl an umbrella near a horse. 

But they were still there and so was I. “Sorry, guys.” 

They relaxed, and I shared Reiki energy with them and with the other horses, ponies, and donkey who stood, still and mindful, in the pasture.

I offered a variation on the earth and sky meditation my animal Reiki teacher, Kathleen Prasad, taught. This meditation gently taps into both the grounding power of the earth and the divine expanse of the sky. I reminded the crew that support is always available, no matter where we are or what is happening.

A chilly breeze cut through my jacket as we 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. She usually hid out in the barn. Now here she was, meowing and rubbing against my legs.

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

Boo had been dropped off a couple of years earlier. Though initially terrified of people, she became “selectively social,” as executive director Allison Wheaton put it.

Being well-trained by cats, I know when one is demanding food, a lap, an opened door, a quick head rub, or the ever-popular skritch 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 taking the leap 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.

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 with an open heart and put what you do have out there, chances are it will be exactly what is needed.

Even today, when COVID-19, violence, and division send us scrambling for an adequate response, we can bring our imperfect offerings.

We are here. We can offer more than we think. We can do this.

A humble reward

Two goats and a pig would have walked happily into a bar. Instead, they were confined to a pen and in various stages of discontent over their primary caregiver’s absence. I’m sure anyone within earshot would have thought Freddy Krueger, and not their animal Reiki practitioner, was visiting.

Because I practice the Let Animals Lead® method of animal Reiki, I wasn’t there to get them to do (or stop doing) anything. Instead, after greeting the animals I sat in meditation on a bench just outside the pen. I set an intention to share the peace that is available whether things are going our way or not. Sometimes that comes down to one breath at a time.

After a while I noticed the pacing, squealing, and “naa-aaa-ing” had stopped. The pig and younger goat had settled at opposite ends of the pen. The older goat, just inside the shed, was relieved not to hear the other two complaining. Each had shared the energy on her own terms and decided what to do next.

When the session ended, I thanked them, reminded them when their person was returning, and said I’d see them next week. I headed for my car with the niggling thought that there should be more.

Then there it was, wedged between the driver’s seat and center console: a biscuit left by my distracted dog after a visit to the groomer. It had been there for a few days.

I started to drop it in the trash, then gave it a closer look and a sniff. Not the freshest to my human nose, but otherwise fine. And it was a gourmet dog biscuit. With pink frosting.

I returned to the pen and broke the treat in three. Pigs and goats are not known for being finicky, but they were as delighted as if I had served it straight from the baker’s case.

Gifts tend to surface when they’re most needed and appreciated … even stale doggie treats.

To learn more about Reiki or communication sessions for your animal friends, visit me at www.njcrowe.com.

Being home alone could be harder for pets

Image by Moshe Harosh from Pixabay 

Going from summer break to “back to school” can be rough for pets in any year. It’s likely to be a more difficult adjustment this year. Due to COVID-19, both big and little humans have been home more and longer, with new anxieties and frustrations. Our animal friends have been working to support and comfort us through all of this. 

So when they find themselves alone for hours at a time, might some cats and dogs be glad of a break? Certainly.

Others, especially if they don’t understand what is happening, may be sad, anxious, or bored. You could be looking at a furniture-scratching, pillow-chewing, garbage-raiding, howling back-to-whatever-passes-as-normal.

What can you do to ease back-to-school, back-to-the-commute transitions for both of you? Here are some suggestions from the ASPCA and my own experience:

  • Give the animals a treat every time you leave the house so they associate your departure with something pleasant.
  • Stuff treats in a rubber toy such as a Kong to give them something to work on.
  • Leave a radio on low volume. I like NPR for its calm voices and classical music, but if there is a particular kind of music your animal companion is used to or seems to like, go with that. 
  • Tell them where you’re going and when you expect someone will be home.  They understand more than you think.
  • Touch base during the day. You don’t need a phone or WiFi. Calmly bring your animal to mind, silently tell him you love him, and remind him of when you (or someone else in the household) will be home. Again — they get it.
  • When you’re at home, remind the animal that even though things are changing and perhaps stressful, you are doing your best. Thank her for all she does to help you. 
  • Keep school backpacks and lunchboxes not just closed, but out of pets’ reach. Many animals are poisoned when they get into things like raisins, sugar-free gum, and inhalers. (For an accessible, authoritative guide to what is and is not poisonous to dogs and cats, I recommend the Vet Protect app developed by an experienced veterinarian. It’s available on iTunes and Google Play.)
  • If your dog or cat’s separation anxiety persists, consult your veterinarian for help and to rule out any physical causes. 
  • Provided your animal has a clean bill of health: As an animal communicator, I can also work with you to prepare pets for change, resolve behavior problems, and gain other important insights. All sessions are done remotely. Visit me at www.njcrowe.com to learn more.

Here’s to a season of learning, however it may evolve, with the animals in our lives.