Routines and rituals add spice to life

After being fed at 4 p.m. sharp (or preferably before), Lucy the black tortie settles into a chair to supervise my yoga practice. If I have the nerve to still be sitting in said chair, she sits and looks at me. Time to get moving.

Around 8:30, I can count on our younger cat to pace around pointedly until I follow her to the room where her bowls and litter box are kept. I give her a bedtime snack of three or four kibbles. We say our prayers and goodnight.

Our shepherd mix, whose anxiety casts the world as predictably unpredictable, knows she gets a dental treat at 7 p.m. If it’s not forthcoming by, say, 6:55, she will follow me around, panting, until she gets it.

Most of our animal friends expect certain things to happen at certain times with certain humans — comings, goings, feeding, walks, turnout, rides, bedtime. (Some animals I work with know when it’s time for my Reiki rounds, too!) Departures may be tolerated, but not especially welcomed.

According to this Brain Pickings article, routine contains everyday chaos while ritual imbues the mundane with the magical. With animals, I think those distinctions blur. Rescues in particular find magic in the most basic daily happenings. Over the last 15 months, they’ve dealt with disrupted routines along with us. Perhaps they’ve found magic in helping us develop new ways to contain our chaos.

Variety may be the spice of life, but routines and rituals add different spices — cinnamon, perhaps, or turmeric — to sustain us in an unsteady world. Like a good stretch, or bedtime prayers and purrs, they affirm that God is good and life, even in some small way, still makes sense.

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.

Up against a wall with your animal?

Image by sianbuckler from Pixabay

“I get it. But I don’t like it.”

As an animal communicator, I occasionally hear or sense this from our four-legged and other friends.

Usually it’s because their human has asked me to help them understand an upcoming move, addition to the family, or other change. Or maybe he or she has hired me to help sort out a behavioral issue.

The animal understands the situation. He may understand what the human wants. But you’re not seeing the change you hoped for.

“I get it. But I don’t like it.”

So the animal keeps nipping, scorning the litter box, or refusing to load. The problem continues after the vet visit, the session with me, your efforts to help, or all of the above. What on earth can you do?

First of all, understand that I can make your wishes known to your animal, but there is no guarantee she will comply. Compliance isn’t the point anyway.

So back to the “what can you do” part:

Let it be. You want to do something — anything — to resolve this problem yesterday, but remember you’ve already planted the seeds for something better.

Some situations resolve themselves in ways understood only by the animal. The cat decides the new baby isn’t a hairless monster. The horse loads when another person tries. The dog feels better and eats the special diet more readily.

You may choose to do something else tomorrow. Today, let go and see what happens. The animal will feel the change in your energy.

Give the animal a choice. Offer an additional litter box. Try getting the donkey onto the trailer tomorrow rather than force him today. If your dog doesn’t want to be around your boyfriend, let her stay where she feels safe.

Letting the animal choose boosts her confidence in herself and in you. That can only improve your relationship and the situation.

Savor (and reward) the small victories. The new cat and the current cat come within three feet of each other without hissing. The dog stops barking the first time he’s asked. This is great! Pony up (so to speak) with praise, a treat, or a play session

Ask for more help. Your animal may be telling you she needs (if you’ll pardon a tired old job rejection phrase) to move in a different direction. If you are still struggling, I will do my best to refer you to a trainer, organization, business, veterinarian, another practitioner or communicator, or someone else through trusted sources. Or you can ask a trusted friend for referrals. It does take a village.

Similarly, don’t hesitate to (diplomatically) let your veterinarian know that you need some other ideas. He or she is on your side, and on your animal’s side.

Also remember every state has veterinary schools — Purdue, here in Indiana — whose mission it is to help people help animals.

There are ways to bridge the gap between understanding and integrating. As with us humans, it may take patience, creativity, and additional support.